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What To Help With Lower Back Pain

Activity And Back Pain

How to Fix Lower Back Pain off to the Side

Back pain is one of the most common reasons for time off work, but staying at work has been shown to improve recovery, although you may need to modify some tasks. When you have back pain, keep as active as you can. Avoid bed rest this does not help and can make symptoms worse. Although you may feel some pain when you are active, it is safe to exercise while you have back pain.

Benefits of keeping active
  • help you to keep doing things that are important or that you enjoy
  • help you feel more positive
  • shift your focus away from your back
  • give you an opportunity to be with others
  • improve your confidence in your back
  • help to control your pain
  • help you feel more in control
  • enable you to be able to return to work more quickly.

Fall Asleep Faster And Sleep Longer

When you have a restful nights sleep, your back will feel less sore during the day.7 A night of restorative sleep can have healing benefits and make you feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and less stressed.

Watch Video: 11 Unconventional Sleep Tips: How to Get to Sleep and Stay Asleep

Try these natural sleep aids, one at a time, to see which one works best for you:

  • Vitamins C and B6. The natural steroids in your body control your metabolism and promote good sleep.8,9 Supplements of vitamins C10 and B611 are known to help the body produce and regulate natural steroid hormones.
  • Melatonin. Your natural sleep hormone, melatonin can be taken as a supplement to improve your sleep cycle.
  • L-theanine. An amino acid found in tea leaves, L-theanine may help some people feel relaxed and get better sleep.
  • Valerian. Supplements made from the root of the valerian plant may help you sleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Another option is cherry juice or cherry extractscherries contain certain enzymes that help promote better sleep.4

See Natural Remedies and Herbal Supplements as Sleep Aids

Back Exercises And Stretches

Simple back exercises and stretches can often help reduce back pain. These can be done at home as often as you need to.

For information about exercises and stretches that can help, see:

A GP may be able to provide information about back exercises if you’re unsure what to try, or you may want to consider seeing a physiotherapist for advice. Read about how to get access to physiotherapy.

Doing regular exercise alongside these stretches can also help keep your back strong and healthy. Activities such as walking, swimming, yoga and pilates are popular choices.

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Avoid Prolonged Static Posture

It is important to pay attention to the joints and muscles of your spine and hip. Prevent fatigue and stresses on these joints by following simple tips, such as:

  • Avoid excessive sitting or consider using a standing desk while you work. When you sit for a long duration, the pressure on your spinal discs increase. Aim to get up every hour and walk a short distance to take the load off your discs.

When you have a flare-up of symptoms, consider less exertive activities, such as reading a book, listening to music, or crafting. These activities can help divert your mind from the pain and let your back rest at the same time.

Ask About Prescription Medications

8 Simple Exercises That Are Perfect For Relief From Lower ...

If your back pain hasnt resolved itself within four to six weeks, make an appointment with your doctor, who will examine your back and ask you to sit, stand, bend, walk, and lift your legs to see how your pain is affecting your mobility. Youll likely be asked to rate your pain on a scale of one to 10, and they may do imaging tests, like an X-ray or MRI. Then, he or she may recommend one of the following prescribed therapies:

  • Muscle relaxants: Medications like cyclobenzaprine or baclofen can help relieve painful back spasms. If you go this route, just know that side effects can include fatigue and dizziness.
  • Topical pain medications: These creams and ointments, like Voltaren gel, are meant to be rubbed directly on to the area thats hurting you.
  • Cortisone shots: If other treatment measures fail, your doctor may recommend an injection of cortisone, a potent anti-inflammatory. There are risks, including thinning of nearby bone, and relief typically lasts just a few months, tops.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain

Symptoms of lower back pain can come on suddenly or appear gradually. Sometimes, pain occurs after a specific event, such as bending to pick something up. Other times, you may not know what caused the pain.

Pain may be sharp or dull and achy, and it may radiate to your bottom or down the back of your legs . If you strain your back during an activity, you may hear a pop when it happened. Pain is often worse in certain positions and gets better when you lie down.

Other symptoms of lower back pain include:

  • Stiffness: It may be tough to move or straighten your back. Getting up from a seated position may take a while, and you might feel like you need to walk or stretch to loosen up. You may notice decreased range of motion.
  • Posture problems: Many people with back pain find it hard to stand up straight. You may stand crooked or bent, with your torso off to the side rather than aligned with your spine. Your lower back may look flat instead of curved.
  • Muscle spasms: After a strain, muscles in the lower back can spasm or contract uncontrollably. Muscle spasms can cause extreme pain and make it difficult or impossible to stand, walk or move.

Support Your Body In A Warm Pool

The buoyancy of the water lets you enjoy the benefits of exercise with less pain. Exercising in water also helps regulate the functioning of nerves and muscles, relieving pain.14

If you prefer warmer pools, look into water exercise classes and hydrotherapy pools. Water therapy exercises are often done in water that is about 83 degrees to 88 degrees. Hydrotherapy pool temperatures are often more than 90 degrees.

See Water Therapy Exercise Program

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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.

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    Hot Or Cold Therapy For Low Back Pain

    Quick Lower Back Pain Relief With 3 Easy Steps

    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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    Is It Muscle Strain Or Sciatica

    Back pain that occurs after excessive exercise or heavy lifting is frequently a strain injury. However, occasionally these activities cause disc injury and rupture or herniation. When a herniated disc irritates the sciatic nerve, it can cause back pain and, in some people, leg pain.

    What is Sciatica?

    Sciatica is a form of nerve pain caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that runs down through the buttocks and extends down the back of the leg. Pressing on or pinching of the sciatic nerve causes shock-like or burning low back pain. Sometimes people feel as if the pain radiates down through the buttocks and down one leg, sometimes even reaching the foot.

    One Back Pain Treatment You Probably Dont Need

    Back pain can be incredibly frustrating, and going under the knife may seem like the quickest, easiest fix to bring relief. But the truth is, many people dont need surgery for lower back pain management, Dr. Park says.

    If your back pain is musculoskeletal, you will not require surgery, but if its a pinched nerve thats due to a disc herniation or something else, you may need to have surgery, he says. But even in those people, when you go through a six-to-eight-week course of treatment that includes physical therapy and activity modification, 85 to 90 percent of the time, they wont need surgery.

    However, if you try the treatments above and dont see any improvement or still feel pain, talk to your doctor about a referral to a pain management specialist, as more specific tests or treatments may be required to get to the bottom of whats going on.

    Stay updated on the latest science-backed health, fitness, and nutrition news by signing up for the Prevention.com newsletter here.

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    Don’t Rest An Achy Back

    Doctors used to prescribe bed rest for back pain. But now we know that lying still is one of the worst things you can do. It can make back pain worse and lead to other complications. Don’t rest for more than a day or two. It’s important to get up and slowly start moving again. Exercise has been found to be one of the most effective ways to relieve back pain quickly. Try swimming, walking, or yoga.

    What Are The Treatments For Lower Back Pain

    Chronic Lower Back Pain

    Lower back pain usually gets better with rest, ice and over-the-counter pain relievers. After a few days of rest, you can start to get back to your normal activities. Staying active increases blood flow to the area and helps you heal.

    Other treatments for lower back pain depend on the cause. They include:

    • Medications: Your provider may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or prescription drugs to relieve pain. Other medications relax muscles and prevent back spasms.
    • Physical therapy : PT can strengthen muscles so they can support your spine. PT also improves flexibility and helps you avoid another injury.
    • Hands-on manipulation: Several hands-on treatments can relax tight muscles, reduce pain and improve posture and alignment. Depending on the cause of pain, you may need osteopathic manipulation or chiropractic adjustments. Massage therapy can also help with back pain relief and restore function.
    • Injections: Your provider uses a needle to inject medication into the area thats causing pain. Steroid injections relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
    • Surgery: Some injuries and conditions need surgical repair. There are several types of surgery for low back pain, including many minimally invasive techniques.

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    Nonspecific Low Back Pain

    This is the most common type of back pain. The majority of cases of sudden-onset low back pain are classed as nonspecific. This is the type of back pain that most people will have at some point in their lives. It is called nonspecific because it is usually not clear what is actually causing the pain. In other words, there is no specific problem or disease that can be identified as the cause of the pain. The severity of the pain can vary from mild to severe. This type of back pain is discussed further below.

    Stretch Your Hamstrings Twice Daily

    One often overlooked contributor to lower back pain is tight hamstrings. If your hamstring muscleslocated in the back of your thighsare too tight hamstrings your lower back and sacroiliac joints will be stressed, leading to more pain. Hamstring stretching should be done carefully and at least twice per day for 15-30 seconds each time.

    There are many gentle stretching exercises that should not hurt.

    Watch:Wall Hamstring Stretch for Low Back Pain Relief Video

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    Will Bed Rest Help Back Pain

    Doctors often recommend continuing your usual activities of daily living as soon as possible. Studies suggest that strict bedrest can often prolong or worsen low back pain. Bed rest can also lead to secondary complications such as depression, decreased muscle tone, and blood clots in the legs. You should try and keep moving while avoiding activities that noticeably aggravate or worsen back pain. By staying active, those who suffer from low back pain can gain greater flexibility and quicker recovery.

    When Should I See My Doctor

    Back Pain Exercises for Lower Back Disc Relief

    If you have back pain and have lost feeling or movement in your limbs or are having problems controlling your bowels or bladder, call triple 000 immediately and ask for an ambulance.

    You should see your doctor or other health care professional for further advice if:

    You should see your doctor as soon as possible, if you have a history of cancer, are prone to infection, or use intravenous drugs.

    For most people, back pain will resolve in a few weeks with appropriate self-care. After 2 months, 9 out of 10 people will recover from back pain.

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    What Causes Back Pain Cause Of Lower Back Pain

    Back pain causes are as diverse as they are common. The most common are muscular, skeletal, and disc problems. Despite their seemingly simple nature, these conditions can be very painful. Some of the most common cause of back pain is improper posture. You should always strive to sit with your shoulders over your hips. This helps to keep your spine in the proper alignment. When you deviate from this position, you put extra pressure on your back muscles, which may lead to muscle spasms and even a spinal stenosis.

    Some of the most common back pain causes are as described above: a dull ache in the back that can radiate to the buttocks or legs. Although not all cases of back pain are as serious, there are a variety of symptoms that can be caused by back issues. A doctor can determine the exact cause of your back pain by asking about your symptoms and performing a physical exam. Sometimes an x-ray will be taken to check whether your bones are aligned properly and to rule out any broken bones. Unfortunately, x-rays cant detect if your disks and nerves have been damaged.

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    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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    Yoga: Stretching For Back Pain

    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.

    Finding Lower Back Pain Relief

    Lower Back Pain? 6 Stretches To Help

    Nearly everyone will experience some form of back pain in his or her lifetime. The low back is the area behind the belly from the rib cage to the pelvis and is also called the lumbar region. Back pain is a major cause of missed work. Low back pain usually resolves on its own and is commonly the result of a strain injury. There are many treatments for low back pain.

    At Risk for Lower Back Pain?

    Low back pain can start in a person’s early twenties and continue on throughout adulthood. Studies have shown that up to 80% of the general population are affected by low back pain at some time during their lives. Learn to prevent lower back pain by knowing what activities could be putting you at risk.

    Common Causes of Low Back Pain

    • Manual materials handling
    • Twisting of the trunk
    • Bending the trunk to the side
    • Excessive reaching
    • Extreme tallness

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    When To See Your Doctor About Back Pain

    You should see your doctor or physiotherapist if you have back pain that is not getting better after a few weeks of trying simple exercises and following the tips for a healthy back.

    Although rare, back pain can be a sign of a more serious condition. If you experience any of the following ‘red flag’ symptoms with your back pain then please see a doctor urgently.

    ‘Red flag’ symptoms see a doctor urgently if you have:
    • numbness in the groin or buttocks
    • loss of bladder or bowel control
    • redness or swelling on your back
    • difficulty walking
    • constant pain, especially at night
    • pain that is getting much worse, or spreading up your spine
    • numbness or pins and needles in both legs
    • feeling unwell with your back pain, such as a fever or significant sweating that wakes you from sleep.

    You should also see your doctor or physiotherapist if:

    • your pain is worse in your lower leg than your back and is not easing
    • you have weakness and numbness in one of your legs
    • you have a rash in the same area as your pain.

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