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What Do You Do When You Have Back Pain

Techniques For Good Posture:

Do you have back pain and problems?

When sitting:

  • Sit in a firm chair with armrests to relieve pressure in your back and shoulders.
  • Keep your upper back straight and shoulders relaxed. Keep stomach muscles pulled in, and maintain the proper curve in your lower back. You can do this by tightening your stomach and buttocks. Some people are more comfortable sitting with the back of the chair at a 15- to 20-degree angle. A small cushion behind the lower back to maintain the natural curve of the back also can be quite helpful.
  • Keep your knees slightly higher than your hips.
  • Use a footstool or book under your feet if necessary.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor or other surface.
  • Don’t sit for a long period of time. Stand up every now and then to stretch tight muscles and give them a chance to relax.

When standing:

  • Stand with weight equal on both feet.
  • Avoid locking your knees.
  • Ease tension in your back by placing one foot on a footstool.
  • If you stand for long periods of time, wear flat or low-heeled shoes.
  • Keep your back straight by tightening your stomach muscles and buttocks.
  • When sleeping,

Lie on your side with your knees bent.

  • If more comfortable, place a pillow between your knees while sleeping on your side.
  • If you sleep on your back, ask your doctor or physical therapist if placing pillows under your knees would help your lower back pain or make it worse.
  • Use a firm mattress.

What Are Some Less Invasive Or Noninvasive Back Pain Treatments

Your doctor has a wide range of treatments that may help your lower back pain. In general, expect your doctor to take a stepped care approach. That means starting with simple, low-cost treatments and moving to more aggressive approaches later. Keep in mind that many treatments take time to reach their full effect.

Medications. When over-the-counter pills and topicals dont do enough to relieve back pain, your doctor may recommend a prescription drug. Examples include:

  • Antiseizure medication, such gabapentin or pregabalin, for nerve-related pain
  • Muscle relaxants, such as baclofen or carisoprodol
  • Prescription NSAIDs, such as celecoxib, diclofenac, or fenoprofen
  • Opioids, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, on a short-term basis.

Physical therapy . PT for lower back pain involves passive and active therapies to help the patient build core muscle strength, improve spinal flexibility and range of motion, correct posture and more. Your physical therapy sessions may include:

Injections. An epidural steroid injection or a selective nerve block may provide short-term pain relief when lower back pain causes sciatica symptoms, such as leg pain.

Weight Loss Exercise And Diet

Think about the extra pounds people carry every day due to their being overweight. This puts added pressure and strain on the back and stomach muscles, causing those muscles to stretch and weaken. Weak back and stomach muscles cannot support the back properly. Poor posture can shift your body out of balance. This forces only a few muscles and joints to do all the work. Without proper exercise, muscles become weak and tire easily. Exercise is necessary to keep the back strong and limber. A good conditioning exercise program led by a trained instructor can be particularly helpful. An effective program includes a warm-up period about 30 minutes of aerobic activity isolated muscle group work and a cool-down period. Over a period of time, the rewards of regular aerobic workouts can include a slimmer waistline and healthier back.

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Stop Looking For A Specific Diagnosis

Stop focusing on a specific diagnosis. Up to 85% of low back pain can be classified as “non-specific.” This means that the origin of your pain cannot be localized to one specific structure or problem.

While common diagnostic tests for low back pain can show the bones, discs, and joints with great detail, no test can tell the exact cause of your pain with 100% accuracy.

When Should I See A Doctor For Back Pain

The Real Reason You Still Have Back Pain (And What to Do ...

When your back first starts to hurt, try taking an over-the-counter pain reliever and applying ice in the first 48 hours. You may apply heat after 48 hours. You may need to take it easy for a while, but its best to stay as active as tolerated, and to avoid absolute bed rest, said Dr. Guo.

If your back pain lasts more than two weeks and keeps you from participating in normal, daily activities, see your family doctor. If your pain is severe, you should see a doctor sooner. You should seek urgent medical care if you have:

  • Fever associated with back pain
  • Back pain after trauma
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Loss of strength in your arms and legs
  • Unexplained weight loss associated with back pain

Also, always be more cautious if you have special risk factors for cancer, infection, or fractures that may affect the spine.

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Tips To Strengthen Your Back

Flexion and extension exercises are commonly used to prevent low back pain. Be sure to review with the doctor any program you are considering.

Easy Low Back Exercises

  • Ankle Pumps: Lie on your back and move ankles up and down.
  • Heel Slides: Lie on your back and bend then straighten the knees one at a time.
  • Wall Squats: With your back flat against a wall, sit like you would in a chair with your knees lined up over your ankles. Gently press against the wall, keeping your abdominal muscles tight. Hold for five seconds.
  • Single Knee to Chest Stretch: Lying down with back flat, pull your knee into the chest.

What Are The Warning Signs Of A Serious Problem

Very rarely back pain or pain that travels down the leg is a sign of a serious problem.

If you have any of the following symptoms, you should seek urgent medical attention:

  • difficulty controlling or passing urine
  • loss of control of your bowels
  • numbness around your back passage or your genitals
  • serious weakness in your legs so you find standing really difficult
  • severe and ongoing back pain that gets worse over several weeks.

The above symptoms could potentially be linked to a rare but serious condition that needs urgent medical attention.

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Overlooked Remedies For Lower Back Pain Relief

When lower back pain persists and continues to interfere with your quality of life, multiple treatment options may be needed for adequate relief. Below are some back pain treatments that are commonly overlooked or underused. Try one or more of these remedies to see which one, or combination, works best for you.

Do Get Regular Chiropractic Massages

What You Need To Do For Your Back Pain

A massage is perhaps one of the most enjoyable things you can do for your back. Having one performed at your chiropractors office only makes sense. Performed under the direction of the chiropractor, the massage therapist will work on problem areas identified to them by the doctor, and work on restoring range of motion, relieving pain, and restoring tight muscles to a more flexible state. Schedule an appointment for a chiropractic massage at our Wasilla Office.

Massage has a great many benefits. Depending on your unique situation, your chiropractor will direct the therapist to perform a particular type of massage as well as inform them of problem areas you might be having. A chiropractic massage addresses the heart of the matter and focuses on addressing your back pain, not in trying to sell you a facial or pedicure.

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Forward Head And Neck

If youre wondering what muscles cause neck pain, these are some of the culprits. Forward head posture and shoulders rounded forward are common signs of this set of muscle imbalances.

For every inch your head moves forward out of alignment from your shoulders, your neck effectively carries an additional ten pounds of weight. Forward head and neck postural dysfunction is a frequent cause of neck and upper back pain, not to mention headaches, shoulder pain and more.

How Is Lower Back Pain Diagnosed

Your provider will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. To check for broken bones or other damage, your provider may order imaging studies. These studies help your provider see clear pictures of your vertebrae, disks, muscles, ligaments and tendons.

Your provider may order:

  • Spine X-ray, which uses radiation to produce images of bones.
  • MRI, which uses a magnet and radio waves to create pictures of bones, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues.
  • CT scan, which uses X-rays and a computer to create 3D images of bones and soft tissues.
  • Electromyography to test nerves and muscles and check for neuropathy , which can cause tingling or numbness in your legs.

    Depending on the cause of pain, your provider may also order blood tests or urine tests. Blood tests can detect genetic markers for some conditions that cause back pain . Urine tests check for kidney stones, which cause pain in the flank .

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Take It Slow When Getting Up

Taking it slow when you get out of bed can be beneficial. You may want to use your arms to sit up slowly before moving your legs off the side of the bed. Once you plant your feet on the ground, shoulder-width apart, you can stand up slowly, using your leg strength instead of your back to help you up.

After carefully standing, you can further relieve tension by reaching your arms up above your head and stretching slowly from side to side.

Workouts That Can Cause Low Back Pain

What do you think is causing your back pain?

Most athletic injuries to the back are sprains of the ligaments or strains of the muscles surrounding the spine. Serious conditions or complications can have similar symptoms to those of a routine sprain or strain. The most common sports injuries occur after repetitive overuse of the spine either through twisting, compression, or flexion. High impact sports such as running, football, or volleyball can often cause low back pain. Sports like golf, in which repetitive twisting is often involved, can also cause low back pain.

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When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain usually gets better with rest and pain relievers. Back pain that doesnt go away may be a sign of a more serious condition.

See your provider if you have:

  • Pain that doesnt get better after about a week of at-home care.
  • Tingling, numbness, weakness or pain in your buttocks or legs.
  • Severe pain or muscle spasms that interfere with your normal activities.
  • Fever, weight loss, bowel or bladder problems or other unexplained symptoms.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Millions of people live with low back pain. Stiffness, pain and limited movement can have a major impact on quality of life. But you may be able to avoid lower back pain by maintaining a healthy weight and staying active. Talk to your provider if back pain doesnt go away or if youre unable to do the activities you enjoy. Several treatments can relieve pain, help you move better and get more out of life.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/18/2021.

References

What If I Dont Want Surgery For My Back Pain

Fortunately, most people with back pain dont need surgery. We usually take a conservative approach first, using a wide variety of nonsurgical spine treatments, said Dr. Guo. For example, I might send you to physical therapy or chiropractic therapy. I might recommend medications such as anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, or some nerve-pain medications. We offer injection therapy, including epidural injections, joint injections, and nerve blocks and ablation if your back pain fails to improve with the conservative treatments. Chances are, one of these approaches will help reduce your back pain and improve your function and quality of life.

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Medication From The Store

There are two kinds of over-the-counter pain relievers that frequently help with back pain: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen. Both have some side effects, and some people may not be able to take them. Talk to your doctor before taking pain relievers. And don’t expect medication alone to solve your pain problem. Studies show you’ll probably need more than one type of treatment.

Yoga: Stretching For Back Pain

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If back pain doesn’t go away in three months, there’s evidence that yoga can help. In one recent study, people who took 12 weeks of yoga classes had fewer symptoms of low back pain than people who were given a book about care for back pain. The benefits lasted several months after the classes were finished. The study suggests conventional stretching also works just as well. Make sure your instructor is experienced at teaching people with back pain and will modify postures for you as needed.

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You’re Having Problems With Your Bowels Or Urination

If your back pain is paired with a loss of control over your bowels or urination, then it’s time to seek help immediately at a local emergency room. These symptoms point to cauda equina syndrome, where the nerves in the lower spine have become paralyzed. While rare, this syndrome can be permanently damaging to the nerves if left untreated. If you experience these symptoms, especially accompanied by numbness in the legs, then you may need surgery to decompress the nerves and preserve their overall function.

Find Back Pain Relief: Lighten Your Bags

Carrying an overstuffed purse, briefcase, or handbag can strain the low back. If you must carry a heavy load, consider using a wheeled briefcase instead. By reducing the amount of weight you’re carrying, you reduce the amount of pressure on the spine. Help keep your kids’ backs healthy by making sure their backpacks are not overloaded. A heavy backpack could mean future back pain for your little ones.

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Bonus Tip: Soothe The Pain With Cold And/or Hot

Don’t underestimate the pain reduction of simply applying cold packs and/or hot packs to help reduce your lower back pain.

  • Cold therapy helps reduce inflammation and pain. Some examples include wrapping ice in a cloth, a pack of frozen peas from the freezer, or a cold gel pack. Always keep at least one layer between your skin and the ice/cold pack.
  • Heat therapy helps improve blood flow, relaxation, and pain relief. Heat therapy can come in many forms. It’s best to try several to find what works best for you. Taking a warm bath or shower, soaking in a hot tub, or using a heating pad or heat wrap are all ways to bring warmth to your lower back.

Whether applying ice or a heat pack, limit applications to 15 or 20 minutes with at least 2 hours of rest in between to protect your skin. Never sleep with a heating pad or frozen pack as this can lead to permanent skin damage.

Hopefully these overlooked remedies can help you try some new approaches to better manage your lower back pain and find lasting relief.

What Causes Lower Back Pain

3 Missed Causes of Back Pain and Sciatica. Which one do ...

Many injuries, conditions and diseases can cause lower back pain. They include:

  • Strains and sprains: Back strains and sprains are the most common cause of back pain. You can injure muscles, tendons or ligaments by lifting something too heavy or not lifting safely. Some people strain their back by sneezing, coughing, twisting or bending over.
  • Fractures: The bones in the spine can break during an accident, like a car crash or a fall. Certain conditions increase the risk of fractures.
  • Disk problems: Disks cushion the vertebrae . Disks can bulge from their position in the spine and press on a nerve. They can also tear . With age, disks can get flatter and offer less protection .
  • Structural problems: A condition called spinal stenosis happens when the spinal column is too narrow for the spinal cord. Something pinching the spinal cord can cause severe sciatic nerve pain and lower back pain. Scoliosis can lead to pain, stiffness and difficulty moving.
  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to cause lower back pain. Ankylosing spondylitis causes lower back pain, inflammation and stiffness in the spine.
  • Disease:Spine tumors, infections and several types of cancer can cause back pain. Other conditions can cause back pain, too. These include kidney stones and abdominal aortic aneurysm.
  • Spondylolisthesis: This condition causes the vertebrae in the spine to slip out of place. Spondylolisthesis leads to low back pain and often leg pain as well.

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Daily Habits To Stop Back Pain

10 daily habits to stop back pain

Although determining the cause of back pain can be complicated, there are many different actions you can take to help alleviate your back pain or prevent it from getting worse. Its all about relieving pressure, reducing strain, protecting your spine, and strengthening your muscles. Changing a few daily habits can help you maintain a healthy, pain-free back for a long time.

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.

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