Preventing Low Back Pain
Steps to lower your risk of back pain as you age include exercising regularly , maintaining a healthy weight, lifting with the legs and not the low back, and optimizing your workstation.
After any period of prolonged inactivity, a regimen of low-impact exercises is recommended. Speed walking, swimming, or stationary bike riding 30 minutes daily can increase muscle strength and flexibility and protect your low back from injury or strain. Frequent stretching can help loosen muscle tension, strengthen your core muscles, and improve over-all posture for a healthier back.
When You Should Go To The Er For Back Pain
If your back pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, head to your closest emergency room because you could be dealing with a more serious condition or injury:
- Sudden spike in pain, discomfort, weakness or numbness
- Loss of bladder function
- Unexplainable weight loss
- The pain results from a fall or severe blow to your back
If you experience any of these symptoms, its a good idea to talk to your doctor so you can determine next steps for managing pain.
How Should I Stand With Back Pain
Many people with low back pain experienced more pain with sitting than while standing. But, if you are one of the people who have more pain in standing, here are some tips to try:
- Stand for shorter periods of time.
- Try placing one foot on a step. This limits excessive spine curvature in standing.
- Avoid high heels!! Heels force the lower spine into increase curvature and can compress the facet joints.
- Consider a work station that adjusts from sitting to standing.
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Is Standing Good For The Low Back
Typically, people with low back pain report increased pain with sitting instead of standing. This is due to the spine’s flexion, which occurs in the seated position, which may increase compression on the lumbar disks. In this case, the standing may decrease symptoms and limit the excessive forces on the disks. This may help to decrease lower back and hip pain.
If you would like to learn more about the lower back’s anatomy, click this link. .
Pain In The Back Of The Hip When Standing
Pain in the back of the hip when standing after sitting may be coming from several different muscles: the glutes, hamstrings, and other deep hip rotators. When the hip flexor muscles on the front side of the hip become short and tighten up, it creates ananterior tilt of the pelvis. The glute and hamstring muscles, which attach to the back of the hip and pelvis, become longer than they want to be. While we often think of long muscles as optimal, these muscles have not lengthened in a healthy, active way. Theyve been yanked into a game of tug-of-war, where the posterior chain muscles may also tighten up to prevent further imbalance.
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Standing Desks May Cause Lower Back Pain: Study
Nearly half of people who use a standing desk are at risk of developing lower back pain, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.
The study tested 40 adults, evenly split between male and female, with no previous back issues. It found that 40 percent developed low back pain after standing for two hours. Moreover, if they were previously fatigued, their muscle strength was not able to recover while standing.
People have different amounts of standing tolerance, Daniel Viggiani, lead author and a PhD candidate in kinesiology at Waterloo, said in a press release. The key take-away, regardless of whether you are sitting or standing at work, is to move around and shift your posture often.
The adults in the study performed two hours of standing work, such as transcribing a document on a computer, or sorting cards to mimic a standing office, two times once with a tiring hip abductor exercise before the session, and once without.
The people who did not have back pain during standing recovered their muscle strength by the end of the two hours. Females in general did not fatigue as quickly.
Those with less standing tolerance use their muscles differently than others while they stand. They might stand with their back a bit more curved than those with more tolerance, for example, said Viggiani. Not everyone needs the same frequency of breaks, but people can usually tolerate sitting for longer than they can standing.
Spinal Anatomy Lower Back Pain
For the purpose of this article, it is helpful to envision the lumbar spine as a tube with supporting structures in front of and behind it. The tube represents the spinal canal that contains the cerebrospinal fluid and nerve roots. At each lumbar level, a pair of nerve roots exit the tube through small openings called the neural foramen . Behind the neural foramen are the facet joints that allow for motion at each lumbar segment. The paraspinal muscles attach to the back of the bony spinal column and help stabilize and extend the spine. In front of the tube are the bony vertebral bodies separated by the intervertebral discs that act as shock absorbers.
The alignment of the spinal column, from the skull to the pelvis, is S shaped. The cervical and lumbar spinal segments are lordotic while the thoracic spine is kyphotic . The amount of lordosis or curvature is not static and can change based on body position. Compared to standing, sitting decreases your lumbar lordosis by approximately 50%.
- Changes in lumbar lordosis will alleviate certain forms of back pain and will aggravate others as will be described below.
- Paraspinal Muscles: Prolonged sitting, especially if slouching, can cause overstretching of the paraspinal muscles. Imagine how sore your hamstrings would be if you tried to touch your toes for an hour!
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When To See A Specialist For Lower Back Pain
If you’re experiencing lower back pain that’s not responding to rest and self-care, it’s time to consider seeing a spine specialist.
“A spine specialist will likely perform a physical exam as well as one or more imaging scans to diagnose the root cause of your lower back pain. Depending on your diagnosis, he or she will then design a treatment plan aimed at alleviating your pain and preventing it from disrupting the everyday activities you enjoy,” says Dr. Palmer.
Tips For Hip Pain Relief When Standing Up After Sitting
Here are 3 simple tips to help relieve some pain in your hips when going from sitting to standing.
Take more breaks and move around
Being inactive by sitting for longer periods of time makes your muscles fall asleep where they end up weakening and tightening as you repeat this day after day over time. Getting up from your couch or chair to move around a little bit helps to get some blood flow and activation into the muscles, keeping them awake and feeling better throughout the day.
Stretch your hip muscles regularly
If your hips tend to feel tight all the time and cause you pain when sitting, consider adding in some stretches for your hip muscles into your daily routine. Stretching can help to increase blood flow and circulation to these areas, helping the muscle to lengthen back out and provide some relief for your hips. The lunge stretch is one thebest hip flexor stretches we know of and thefigure 4 stretch is great for targeting the piriformis.
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When Should I See A Doctor If I Have Lower Back Pain
In many cases lower back pain stops on its own. But if it doesnt, here are some guidelines on when you may want to start seeking professional help:
- If the pain lasts four weeks or longer
- If the pain keeps getting worse as time goes by
- If you are experiencing other symptoms, such as fever, major weight loss or weight gain, loss of function or weakness in extremities, bladder problems, etc.
Pain In The Front Of The Hip When Standing
Pain in the front of the hip when standing after sitting is most likely coming fromtightness in the iliopsoas, your bodys main hip flexor that consists of the psoas and iliacus muscles. Both muscles come together where they cross the front of the hip joint and insert at the lesser trochanter of the femur.
Remember, these hip flexor muscles often become tight when sitting and may struggle to fully lengthen when standing if they are still holding tension. This may result in pain in the front of the hip when standing after sitting for an extended period of time due to the vertical pull and compression that a tight iliopsoas places on the hip joint.
Because the psoas muscle originates at and connects to the L1 through L5 vertebrae of the lumbar spine, pain may also be felt in the lower back when going from sitting to standing.
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Lower Back Pain: What Could It Be
Do you have lower back pain? You are not alone. Anyone can experience lower back pain at any time, even if you dont have a prior injury or any of the risk factors. It is not always serious and can often get better on its own. But in some cases pain is your bodys way of telling you that something isnt right.
Learn more about lower back pain and what causes it from rehabilitation physician Akhil Chhatre, M.D., who specializes in back pain in the Johns Hopkins Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Hot Or Cold Therapy For Low Back Pain
Hot or cold packs may help ease pain and reduce symptoms. The soothing relief from heat, or the dulling relief from a cold pack, is only temporary and will not treat more serious causes of back pain. However, they may provide greater mobility for people with acute, subacute, or chronic pain, allowing them to get up and get moving.
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Treatments For Back Pain From A Specialist
A GP, specialist or physiotherapist may recommend extra treatments if they do not think your pain will improve with self-help measures alone.
These may include:
- group exercise classes where you’re taught exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your posture
- manual therapy treatments, such as manipulating the spine and massage, which are usually done by a physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath
- psychological support, such as cognitive behavioural therapy , which can be a useful part of treatment if you’re struggling to cope with pain
Some people choose to see a therapist for manual therapy without seeing a GP first. If you want to do this, you’ll usually need to pay for private treatment.
Surgery is generally only considered in the small number of cases where back pain is caused by a specific medical condition.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
Nighttime back pain that wakes you up from sleep or prevents you from sleeping is a sign that it’s time to discuss the issue with your healthcare provider. Along with lower back pain, you can also experience muscle stiffness and a limited range of motion, especially if the cause is a strain or sprain.
It’s also helpful to know how pain is commonly categorized:
- Acute pain is short-term pain lasting a few days or a few weeks. Its typically connected to an injury or specific event.
- Chronic pain is longer-term pain lasting for several months or more. In many cases, it isn’t initiated by an injury.
While each individual’s situation and pain threshold will be different, there are some common guidelines that’ll help you decide when your nighttime lower back pain merits a trip to the healthcare provider.
Contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible if your pain:
- Began with a specific injury
- Continues or gets worse for more than a few days
- Feels severe or radiates to other parts of the body, like your legs
- Is accompanied by signs of infection, such as redness, warmth, swelling, or fever
- Is accompanied by weakness, numbness, or tingling in your lower body
Checking with your primary care healthcare provider or other first-line healthcare professional is a good start. They will be able to treat or refer you to another specialist if needed.
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Exercising At Work To Help With Standing
If you stand all day, doing stretching exercises throughout the day can interrupt the routine posture you hold. Doing a simple back stretch every hour is easy to do and can be especially helpful for people who are unable to sit at work. For example, the physiologist suggests doing the Standing Cat Camel:
- Stand with your feet under your shoulders
- Slightly bend the knees
- Put your hands on your legs just above the knees
- Round the back and curve the shoulders
- Arch the back and open the chest while rolling the shoulders back
- Alternate the rounding and arching of the back for 2 minutes every hour
Some other exercises you can do while at work include squats, shifting from one foot to another, rolling from tiptoes to heels and back, stretching towards the ceiling with arms reaching up and then stretch downward while keeping the legs straight, and side bends, to name a few.
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Get a Standing Desk -standing, even for short periods throughout the day, has been proven to help alleviate or prevent sitting-caused back pain. By standing at your desk you’ll burn extra calories and the variability offered by a sit-to-stand desk will benefit you in more ways than you might think. Our writer, Ryan put together a great guide on buying a standing desk. and is a really good value for money.
Get an Ergonomic Chair – for most of us, sitting is just part of our daily lives and jobs. Even for those with the benefit of a standing desk, it’s still important to make sure that you have a quality chair for the considerable time you still spend sitting.Ergonomic focused chairsoffer lower back or lumbar support which is key in making your sitting time much less painful.
Use an Inversion Table – the only way to get 100% decompression of your spine compared to when you stand is to invert at a 60-degree angle. There is some research supporting the use of inversion tables to get rid of back pain. And besides getting rid of back pain, there are many other benefits reported by users.
Get a Foam Roller – we think foam rollers are a great, cheap option for targeted massage and tissue release. We are a big fan because they come in many shapes, sizes, and difficulty levels that will fit just about any budget. You should do your research though as there is an initial learning curve to overcome.
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How To Get Out Of Bed
To get out of bed safely:
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.
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Acupuncture For Low Back Pain Relief
Acupuncture can be moderately effective for chronic low back pain. With acupuncture, fine needles are inserted into various points around the body.
Acupuncture practitioners hypothesize that when these thin needles are inserted into the skin and then stimulated by twisting or tapping, naturally occurring chemicals such as endorphins, serotonin, and acetylcholine are released to relieve pain.
Anecdotal evidence suggests acupuncture can be an effective pain reliever. Further scientific and clinical studies are underway to prove the efficacy of acupuncture therapy.