Can I Prevent Lower Back Pain
You cant prevent lower back pain that results from disease or structural problems in the spine. But you can avoid injuries that cause back pain.
To reduce your risk of a back injury, you should:
- Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight puts pressure on vertebrae and disks.
- Strengthen your abdominal muscles: Pilates and other exercise programs strengthen core muscles that support the spine.
- Lift the right way: To avoid injuries, lift with your legs . Hold heavy items close to your body. Try not to twist your torso while youre lifting.
Treating Lower Back Spasms
Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants may help relieve symptoms while the muscles heal. Research from a 2016 review of studies supports the use of muscle relaxants for significant pain relief from short-term muscle spasms.
Chiropractic care may help, but be sure to see a doctor to have your condition properly diagnosed first. Physical therapy to help strengthen your back and abdominal muscles is often recommended.
In the middle of a back spasm, slowly make your way to the nearest comfortable chair or sofa. Here, you can try the following:
Best Bets For Back Pain
Judicious use of pain relievers can help you keep doing your usual daily activities, which aids recovery from back pain.
When your back is bothering you and you don’t want to take prescription drugs, over-the-counter solutions and physical therapies can help relieve symptoms.
At this moment, about 10% of men have a backache, and up to 90% will have a backache at some point in their lives. Most flare-ups of low back pain get better over time, often within a few weeks. Pain control is important because it allows you to stay active, which assists in your recovery. For over-the-counter pain relievers, you have two options: acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .
But pain relievers are only one tool to help you recover from, and prevent, low back pain, according to Dr. Jeffrey N. Katz, professor of medicine and surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and editor of the Harvard Special Health Report Low Back Pain: Healing Your Aching Back. Dr. Katz suggests you also include these steps in your back-care plan:
Soothe with cold or heat. In the first few days, when pain is most intense and may be accompanied by inflammation, apply cold compresses for 15-minute periods. After a few days, switch to warm compresses to relax the affected muscles and enhance blood flow to the area. This simple approach can reduce reliance on pain relievers.
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Low Back Pain Diagnosis
Getting diagnosed with a specific cause of low back pain is the first step to getting treatment. If you land in your doctors office hoping for back pain relief, theyll use a variety of diagnostic tools and methods, such as:
A thorough medical history including any recent injuries, other diagnoses, family history of disease, and your job, activities and other lifestyle considerations
Physical exams, which may include manipulating the painful area or reflex or other neurological tests
Electromyography, which measures muscle and nerve function
ImagingX-rays can show bone spurs and damage to bone, while CT scans and MRIs can depict damage to soft tissue like discs or ligaments
How Does My Back Work
To understand your back pain, its helpful to know a little about how your back works.
Your back is a complex structure that provides support for your pelvis, legs, ribcage, arms and skull. The spine is made up of bones called vertebrae that are stacked together to form a loose S-shaped column.
Each vertebra is cushioned by spongy tissue called intervertebral discs. These discs act as shock absorbers and give your spine its flexibility. Vertebrae are joined by pairs of small joints known as facet joints. A mesh of connective tissue called ligaments holds the spine together.
Complex layers of muscle provide structural support and allow you to move. Your spinal cord runs through the centre of the vertebral column and connects your brain to the rest of your body.
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Sleep On A Quality Mattress
Lower back pain sufferers usually benefit from sleeping on a medium-firm mattress. However, your preferred sleep position also should influence your mattress selection. To maintain good posture, side sleepers should select a softer mattress. Back and stomach sleepers should choose a firmer mattress. If you have lower back pain, its a good idea to avoid sleeping on your stomach altogether.
If your lower back pain doesnt improve after 4 to 6 weeks of home care using these suggestions, you should see your doctor. You also should contact your doctor right away if you have any red flags, including:
- A history of cancer or a recent infection
- A recent fall or other accident
- Extreme fatigue
- Signs of infection, such as fever, chills, sweats
- Nerve problems, such as shooting pain, numbness or tingling
- Changes in bowel or bladder function
Other options for treating lower back pain may include physical therapy, pain management with cortisone injections or, in certain cases, surgery. Although lower back surgery can be beneficial for patients who are experiencing nerve problems and injured discs, its not typically recommended for patients with other types of lower back pain.
Download the Virtua Health Guide to Back Pain, or call to request a consultation with a Virtua back pain specialist.
How Long Should You Lay On A Heating Pad For Back Pain
The heating pad should stay on for about 30 minutes to be effective. The muscle or joint may not have an opportunity to warm up if you are on for too long.
If you are using a heat pad for the first time and it is not working for you, try a different type of pad. For example, if you have a foam pad that is too warm, you can try using an air pad instead.
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Incorporate An Element Of Instability Into Your Workout
The slow, controlled movements in exercises like Pilates teach your muscles to move the spine efficiently. The next step is to start exercising in a more variable environment, which develops even more coordination and control.
In another study, Dr. Moreno Catalá and her collaborators found that adding instability to exercises like balancing on an uneven surface or even working out in a noisy environment was effective at relieving lower back pain.
Dr. Moreno Catalá said it is less about the amount of muscular strength and more about the ability to finely control the activation and deactivation of all the muscles that stabilize the spine.
We think the size of the muscle is the most important quality, but its also the quality of activation that is important, she said.
Choosing sports that include an element of reactivity, whether its hiking on a rocky surface or reacting to a sudden tennis volley, can result in a similar level of muscular development and control. Body weight exercises, such as push-ups, pull-ups, burpees and squats, also help, since they require full-body coordination, rather than the isolated movement of lifting weights.
Rachel Fairbank is a freelance science writer based in Texas.
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What Can I Do If I Have Acute Low Back Pain
The following advice will benefit a majority of people with back pain. If any of the following guidelines causes an increase of pain or spreading of pain to the legs, do not continue the activity and seek the advice of a physician or physical therapist.
The key to recovering from acute low back pain is maintaining the normal curve of the spine . Supporting the hollow of your back will help decrease your recovery time.
Follow these guidelines for 10 to 20 days after you experience acute low back pain:
- Sit as little as possible, and only for short periods of time .
- Sit with a back support at the curve of your back.
- Keep your hips and knees at a right angle. Your legs should not be crossed and your feet should be flat on the floor.
Here’s how to find a good sitting position when you’re not using a back support or lumbar roll:
Correct sitting position without lumbar support.
Correct sitting position with lumbar support.
- Use a back support at the curve of your back. Your knees should be at the same level or higher than your hips.
- Move the seat close to the steering wheel to support the curve of your back. The seat should be close enough to allow your knees to bend and your feet to reach the pedals.
Stooping, squatting, and kneeling
Sleeping and lying down
Other helpful tips
If you sleep on your back, put pillows under your knees and a small pillow under the small of your back.
Treating Back Spasms With Chiropractic Care
During your initial visit, your chiropractor will determine the cause of your muscle spasm. If it is caused by strain or injury, they might perform spinal adjustments or soft tissue therapy to ease the pain and discomfort.
However, if the chiropractor finds an issue with a spinal disc, then you may require different treatment or further imaging. The requisite rehabilitation may involve different exercises and stretches. In some instances, you may also be referred back to your medical doctor for additional care.
If youre worried about the treatment hurting, dont worry chiropractic care is gentle and is always a discussion between you and the treating practitioner.
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What Causes Back Pain
The causes of back pain are not fully understood. Most people with back pain dont have any significant damage to their spine. The pain comes from the muscles, ligaments and joints.
Common causes of back pain include:
- repetitive or heavy lifting
- sudden awkward movement
There are also a number of things that can make it more likely that the back pain will become persistent, such as:
- already living with, or developing, negative beliefs about your chances of recovery
- already living with, or developing, depression or anxiety
- work-related issues.
In a very small number of people, back problems are caused by a serious condition such as cancer, inflammatory problems, infection, fracture or compression of the nerves in the spine. However this is rare, and your doctor will check for these causes.
Could Lower Back Pain Be Kidney Pain
It absolutely can. Kidneys are located on the back side of your body and kidney pain can sometimes feel like back pain. The only true way to tell the difference is to visit a doctor who can conduct a thorough examination.
Back Pain Causes and Treatments Webinar | Stephanie Van, M.D.
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Exercise To Loosen Muscles
Although it may seem counterintuitive to exercise when lower back pain is causing you grief, the right kind of movement can help eliminate the discomfort. Its always important to consult your physician before you engage in exercise when you have pain, but this conversation is well worth having if youre suffering.
First, you should keep in mind that not all exercise is beneficial in combating back pain. Try to avoid toe-touch exercises and sit-ups, which may add to the stress on your spine instead of relieving it. Leg lifts are another exercise to stay away from when you are hurting. If your core is not strong, leg lifts could be too demanding on your body if youre already experiencing pain.
Several types of exercises can be useful when you need to relieve back pain. Partial crunches can aid in strengthening your core without applying too much pressure to the area. Slow and controlled wall-sit exercises may also be useful. Other repetitions to consider include bringing each knee to the chest in succession, pelvic tilts, and swimming.
Opt For Ice To Prevent Sore Muscles
If you work out or play sports frequently, you may notice sore muscles, which eventually lead to back pain. The good news is you can prevent this situation by applying ice or cold therapy to your muscles immediately after physical activities. This way you can keep tissue damage, pain, and inflammation. After 24 hours, use hot therapy to stimulate the healing of tissues.
Remember that too much of anything is never a good thing. This holds true for both cold and hot therapy. Use these treatments for lower back pain in moderation. Your doctor may encourage you to pair them with other treatments such as medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy.
In the event conservative treatments deem to be ineffective, your doctor can design a surgical plan that will help you find the relief you deserve.
All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.
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Rub On Medicated Creams
Skin creams, salves, ointments, or patches may help when your back feels stiff, sore, and tense. Many of these products contain ingredients such as menthol, camphor, or lidocaine that can cool, heat, or numb the affected area.
Put on creams right where you hurt. Ask someone to apply it if you have trouble reaching the spot.
âIt’s not going to be a mainstay at providing significant relief, but it can calm things down,â Ray says.
Remedies To Relieve Lower Back Pain Fast
We all want to know the best way to relieve lower back pain fast. At best, backache can be frustrating, perhaps draining. At its worst, this kind of discomfort can be utterly debilitating. If you have ever awakened with a terrible backache, you may have also learned how quickly such an ailment can derail your day, your week, or even several months or years.
Fortunately, there are remedies to combat that ache. From exercising to getting better sleep to reducing your stress levels, you can choose from a variety of strategies. The next time you have a backache , consider the following methods of back pain relief. Remember to discuss at-home back pain remedies with your doctor before you make use of them.
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Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease affecting an estimated 27 million Americans. Osteoarthritis of the spine specifically affects the joints of the spine called the facets and the ligaments in the spine. It is common in women, with older people and people at an increased weight most at risk. Osteoarthritis of the lower back can cause:
- Joint tenderness and stiffness
- limited range of motion
- Pain in your upper or lower back, groin, buttocks, and thigh with walking or extension of the spine
What Is The Outlook
Most of us will have a bout of nonspecific low back pain at some point in our lives. The severity can vary. However, it is difficult to quote exact figures as to outlook . This is partly because it is so common and many people with back pain do not consult a doctor. Roughly, it is thought that:
- Most nonspecific back pains ease and go quickly, usually within a few weeks.
- In about 4 in 10 cases, the pain has completely gone within four weeks.
- In about 7 in 10 cases the pain has completely gone within one year.
However, once the pain has eased or gone it is common to have further bouts of pain from time to time in the future. Also, it is common to have minor pains on and off for quite some time after an initial bad bout of pain. In a small number of cases the pain persists for several months or longer. This is called chronic back pain.
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Chronic Low Back Pain
Chronic low back pain is a common condition. It is defined by low back pain lasting more than six weeks. Unfortunately, a clear cause can only be found in twenty percent of cases. The rest of the time, it is believed to be due to strain on the bones and muscles of the back from heavy lifting, prolonged sitting, or bad posture.
For back pain persisting longer than six weeks, it is recommended to make an appointment with a physician. Treatments may include a program of back exercises, as well as pain medicine such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen . It is also recommended to stay active and carry on with the things you usually do as much as possible, to help you recover faster. Sitting or lying still for long periods can actually make the pain worse. Your joints may become stiff which will make it harder and more painful to move your back.