The Universal Guide To Lower Back Pain: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know Straight From The Experts
In This Article: Lower Back Anatomy | How Long Does Lower Back Pain Usually Last? | Common Causes | Other Causes | Home Remedies | Nonsurgical Treatments | Complementary, Alternative, and Emerging Treatments | Surgery | When Is Lower Back Pain an Emergency? | Lower Back Pain Prevention |
If youve ever had lower back pain stop you from doing what you want, youre not alone. Lower back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the world. It is a leading reason why people visit a doctor, affecting more than 80% of adults at some point in their lives. According to the Global Burden of Diseasea significant study published in the Lancet medical journallower back pain is also a leading cause of disability.
While severe lower back pain can cause worry, pain severity is not always an indication something is seriously wrong. Photo Source: Shutterstock.
You may not be able to prevent lower back pain, especially as you age and your back loses some strength and resilience. Fortunately, there are many ways you can get relief, no matter the cause of your back pain.
Safeguard Your Back While Training
Raising is a typical reason for lower pain in the back. Usual everyday activities, such as discharging grocery bags from the vehicle or lifting your little one, can cause reduce back troubles.
Raising with your back curved, or raising while twisting, might trigger an unexpected injury to your lower back or repetitive injury over a time period, bring about chronic cells damages.
Bend at your knees, not at your reduced back a totally bent back can be very at risk to a ligament or disc injury.
Rotate your feet and hips, as opposed to turning your reduced back.
Hold the item close to your chest while correcting your spine.
While lifting belongs of everyday activities, having a job that includes hefty lifting might boost your risk of developing lower back problems.
Simple Stretches To Relieve Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain can be a debilitating and painful condition.
Fortunately, staying physically active may be the most effective and cost-efficient way to soothe or prevent it.
Here are 8 simple stretches to relieve lower back pain.
Although its origin varies, changes in the lumbar, or lower back, structure due to musculoskeletal damage are considered to be the main cause .
Your musculoskeletal system is made up of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues that provide form, support, stability, and movement to your body.
Other muscles that play an important role in maintaining the normal curvature of your spinal column are reported to be associated with lower back pain. These include the hip flexor and hamstring muscles .
Minor lower back pain normally gets better on its own within a few days or weeks. It can be considered chronic when it persists for more than three months .
In either case, staying physically active and regularly stretching can help reduce lower back pain or prevent it from returning .
The remainder of this article provides eight stretches for lower back pain, all of which you can do in the comfort of your own home with minimal or no equipment.
Summary Lower back pain is an incredibly common condition that can be relieved or prevented with regular exercise and stretching.
The knee-to-chest stretch can help lengthen your lower back, relieving tension and pain.
To perform the knee-to-chest stretch:
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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.
Release Your Inner Endorphins
Endorphins are hormones made naturally in your body. What many people dont know is that endorphins may help block pain signals from registering in your brain. Endorphins also help alleviate anxiety, stress, and depression, which are all associated with chronic back pain and often make the pain worse.
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Can A Mattress Cause Back Pain
A mattress can definitely be a cause of back pain because it plays such an important role in how the body is positioned through the night. Most people know that posture is important but only think about their posture in the context of standing and sitting. This can cause them to overlook the importance of having a mattress that is the proper fit for them based on their body shape, weight, and sleeping position.
If the spine and joints arent aligned and well-cushioned during sleep, they wont be able to relax. Instead of recovering, the body will be strained, exacerbating pre-existing back issues and sowing the seeds for new ones. The easiest way to know whether a mattress is a contributing factor to back pain is if the pain tends to be the most pronounced in the morning when you wake up. If the pain is the worst when you get out of bed and subsides during the day, theres a good chance that your mattress is playing a part in your aches and pains.
What Is Lower Back Pain
Low back pain can result from many different injuries, conditions or diseases most often, an injury to muscles or tendons in the back.
Pain can range from mild to severe. In some cases, pain can make it difficult or impossible to walk, sleep, work or do everyday activities.
Usually, lower back pain gets better with rest, pain relievers and physical therapy . Cortisone injections and hands-on treatments can relieve pain and help the healing process. Some back injuries and conditions require surgical repair.
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Are You Making Your Back Pain Worse
Don’t be guilty of exacerbating your already achy back. Try these tips for preventing added low back pain:
- Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes if you are on your feet all day.
- Don’t slouch when standing or sitting.
- At home or work, make sure work surfaces are at a comfortable height.
- Warm-up and stretch before exercise or other strenuous physical activity.
- Don’t try to lift objects that are too heavy and don’t twist while lifting.
- Live a healthy lifestyle, stop smoking, and keep off the extra weight.
What Should I Think About When Deciding About Treatment
You and your health care professional can discuss what might be best to treat your low back pain. Here are some things to think about. Be sure to share your thoughts with your health care professional.
- How does your low back pain affect your daily life?
- What are your goals for treatment?
- Which treatment feels like the best fit for you?
- Which possible side effects of treatment concern you?
- How might the cost of treatment affect your decision?
- How much time do you have to spend on treatment?
Ask your health care professional
- Which treatment do you think may be best for me? Why?
- What may help my low back pain in the short term?
- What may help my low back pain in the long term?
- Might medicine help my low back pain? If so, which one?
- What side effects should I watch for? When should I tell you about them?
- Might nonmedicine treatments help my low back pain?
- How long might it take for the treatment to start working?
- Is there anything else I can try?
Best Flippable Mattress For Lower Back Pain
Idle Sleep Idle Hybrid Mattress
- Price: $$
- Type: hybrid
- Height: 13 inches
With its combination of supportive coils and cooling, CertiPUR-US certified foam, the Idle Hybrid is designed for comfort and longevity. The flippable design means limited sag and twice the life span.
Youll also have the option of choosing a different firmness level on either side, so you can enjoy the right support every night even if your preferences change down the line.
Idle Sleep offers a generous 18-month trial period with free shipping and returns, plus a lifetime warranty.
What Are The Most Common Lower Back Surgery Procedures
Spine surgery is not necessary for most people who have lower back pain. If you do need it, your doctor will recommend an appropriate procedure to address your specific symptoms and medical situation. Common spine surgeries include:
Spinal Fusion. Two or more vertebrae are permanently fused together to limit excess spinal motion. Your surgeon will use a combination of bone, bonelike material, screws, plates and rods to hold the vertebrae together so they can heal into a single unit. Spinal fusion may be done to correct spinal deformities or to increase the spines stability in severe cases of spinal osteoarthritis or herniated discs.
Laminectomy and laminotomy. Laminectomy is a surgery in which your surgeon removes the back portion of one or more vertebrae to create more space for the spinal cord or other nerves. In people with severe arthritis, bone spurs within the spinal canal can grow large enough to press on the spinal cord, causing pain and limiting mobility. In a similar surgery known as laminotomy, your surgeon will remove a small piece of bone called the lamina from the back of the vertebra.
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What Is The Outlook For People With Lower Back Pain
The outlook depends on the cause of pain. Most people with back strains and sprains recover and do not have long-term health issues. But many people will have another episode within a year.
Some people have chronic back pain that doesnt get better after several weeks. Older people with degenerative conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis may have symptoms that get worse over time. Surgery and other treatments are effective at helping people with a range of injuries and conditions live pain-free.
Prevent It In The First Place
Do exercises to strengthen the core muscles supporting your spine, and your abdominal, back, and hip muscles. Avoid any exercise that causes you to stretch your back to the point of discomfort. Bend at the knees when lifting a heavy object, and keep it close to your body with your knees slightly bent as you hold it. Practice good posture: Dont slump when you sit, and use the muscles in your shoulders and abdomen to maintain your spine in a neutral position.
People with back pain sometimes also suffer from depression. Treating the depression can lessen the pain because the same chemical messengers in the brain influence your mood and how you perceive pain. The antidepressant duloxetine is FDA-approved for treating chronic lower back pain. A word of warning: The drug can cause rare but serious side effects, including lowered blood pressure and a risk of liver failure.
Editor’s Note: This article and related materials are made possible by a grant from the state Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program, which is funded by the multistate settlement of consumer-fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin .
Xi When Are Certain Diagnostic Tests Necessary
There is concern within the medical community that high-tech imaging methods, such as CT scan and MRI, are overused for acute low back pain. Often, these sensitive imaging techniques reveal asymptomatic abnormalities in the lumbar spine that are not the cause of the patients pain. In one study, volunteers with no history of back pain were given MRIs and 90% of those over age 60 had degenerative disc disease. MRIs that show abnormalities in the lumbar region that cause no symptoms for the patient are not helpful.
What Type Of Mattress Is Best For Lower Back Pain
If youre dealing with lower back pain, the right mattress can make a big difference.
A mattress that doesnt hold up our body will cause pain in the lower back, explains Dr. Lynelle McSweeney, a chiropractor in Reno, Nevada. We need support to keep our joints from going into a stress point, which puts pressure on nerves and strains the muscles.
In general, hybrid or innerspring mattresses will offer more support than all-foam options, which may be too soft.
The manufacturers firmness rating can also help you zero in on a supportive option. These ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest. Medium-firm mattresses, which have a rating of 7 to 8, are typically recommended for lower back pain.
Keep in mind that the firmness of a mattress will depend on a few different factors, including your preferred sleeping position, your body size and weight, and whether you share your bed with a partner or pet. Personal preference plays a role too.
There is no single right mattress for everyone, but there are certain considerations when youre dealing with lower back pain:
Make a point of checking reviews so you can see what previous purchasers have to say about any mattresses youre considering.
Comfort is highly individual, so take advantage of the free in-home trials that manufacturers offer to find a mattress that balances enough support for your lower back with overall comfort. Check the return policy and warranty, too.
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You Ramp Up Activity Too Quickly
If you go on a week-long golf vacation and your balls have been gathering dust in storage for the last 10 years, youre asking for trouble, Press says. Even if youre in decent physical shape, just the twisting and turning involved in certain activities like golf can cause back strain. Your spine and back muscles are less forgiving than when you were younger, so you need to make sure your body is prepared for the load put on it, adds Press. Whether you’re headed for a golf, tennis or yoga outing, fit in some practice time a few weeks ahead.
When To See A Doctor
People can often treat back pain with home remedies and some patience. However, a person should speak to a doctor about chronic or severe back pain.
A doctor may recommend physical therapy, medication, or other treatments. People who have existing health conditions or who take regular medications should speak to a doctor before trying any herbs or supplements.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration do not monitor supplements for purity or quality, so it is essential to research reputable companies first.
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Prone Lying Prone Props And Press Ups
In the case of sudden onset of acute low back pain, you should try the emergency back pain exercises first. Lie on your stomach for a few minutes, then prop onto your elbows for a minute or two. Monitor your symptoms for centralization.
After a few minutes in the propped up position, try a few press ups. Try to keep your hips and back relaxed as you use your arms to press your upper body up. Try to press up as far as possible to restore the normal forward curve in your low back. Say to yourself, “Further, further, further” as you press up. Move your spine through the full, pain-free, range of motion. Perform 10 repetitions and monitor your symptoms.
If your pain does not fully centralize with the press up exercise, you may need to move on to the next exercise: the press ups with your hips off center.
Avoid Leg Lifts Lower Back Pain Where To Go
Leg lifts are often suggested as a workout to strengthen your core or stomach muscles. Exercising to restore strength to your lower back can be really useful in relieving discomfort yet raising both legs together while existing on your back is very demanding on your core.
If weak, this workout can make pain in the back worse. Rather, attempt lying on your back with one leg right as well as the other leg bent at the knee. Maintaining your lower back flat on the flooring.
Slowly raise the straight leg up around 6 inches and also hold briefly. Lower leg gradually. Repeat 10 times, after that change legs.
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What Are Your Options
If you try acetaminophen for a backache and it doesn’t work as well as you need it to, then stop taking it, says Dr. Katz. “Three to five days is all you need to find out if it will work.”
Also, you don’t necessarily have to choose between acetaminophen and NSAIDs you could try both at the same time. “They are often used in combination, because they don’t appear to have additive side effects, while many people find that they have additive benefits,” Dr. Katz says.
Finally, remember that pain relievers are just one tool available to men with back pain, whether occasional or chronic. Make sure to do all the other things mentioned above to recover from or prevent future flare-ups.