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11 Ways to Manage Low Back Pain

Low back pain is definitely one of 2 muscular skeletal issues I encounter the most in my clinic – the other being neck and shoulder issues.

Perhaps you bent the wrong way while lifting something heavy or twisted in the car or while lifting weights and felt your back “go” or “rip”. Perhaps you’re dealing with a degenerative condition like arthritis or just over 40 or so and feeling it!

Whatever the cause, once you have low back pain it can be hard to shake. According to current research, about one in four people say they’ve had a recent bout of low back pain. And almost everyone can expect to experience back pain at some point in their lives. Horrid but true fact!

Most of the time low back pain needs to be “managed”.  I hope the followng tips will be of help to you.  You should seek other professional help when:

  • your low back pain is severe, doesn’t go away after a few days, or it hurts even when you’re at rest or lying down.
  • you have weakness or numbness in your legs, or you have trouble standing or walking.
  • you lose control over your bowels or bladder.

These could be signs that you have a nerve problem or another underlying medical condition that needs to be treated.

SIMPLE TIPS TO TRY AT HOME:

  1. Try cold/heat packs.  An ice pack can help reduce inflammation, muscle spasm, and pain. Cold will help for around 3 days after an initial injury when inflammation will be at its height.  Try using cold packs, ice cubes, iced towels/compresses, or take a cool bath.After 3 days, heat can also be used to ease muscle tension. Apply heat to your aching back by using a hot compress, a dry or moist heating pad, or hydrotherapy (hot bath). Heat therapy can help decrease muscle spasms, relax tense muscles, relieve pain, and can increase range of motion.

    A good general rule as to whether you should use cold or heat is to ask yourself, “Does it make my back feel better when I apply it?” If you feel better, then it is working.

  2. Rest (but just a little). If your back hurts, take a rest – lie down and avoid overusing your back muscles for a while. This doesn’t mean stay in bed for a week! In fact, too much rest can make your back pain worse. After a short break, get up, move around, and stretch. You’ll find it actually helps reduce that nagging backache.
  3. Stretch. Don’t sit slumped in your desk chair all day. Get up every 20 minutes or so and stretch! Most of us spend a lot of time bending forward in our lives and it’s important to stand up and stretch backward throughout the day.  Don’t forget also to also stretch your legs regularly, especially the hamstrings and hip flexors which get especially tight when we sit a lot!
  4. Think ergonomically. Design your workspace so you don’t have to hunch forward to see your computer monitor or reach way out for your mouse. Use a desk chair that supports your lower back and allows you to keep your feet planted firmly on the floor.
  5. Get regular massage. Massage is a recognised therapy that can help relieve muscle tension, spasms, inflammation, aches, stiffness, and pain. It can also help improve circulation, flexibility, and range of motion. Massage can be administered by a professional massage therapist or you can give yourself a mini-massage using hand-held massagers that can help increase blood flow and relieve pain.
  6. Try Acupuncture. I find this treatment helps people upwards of 80% of the time for back problems – when it doesn’t help its because there are other root issues that need to be addressed first.
  7. Watch your posture.  Whether you have an excessive low back curve (lordosis) or round shoulders with an excess thoracic curse (kyphosis) aim to stand tall, lifting your chest up and allowing your shoulders to drop naturally back and down.
  8. Watch your weight. Use diet and exercise to keep your weight within a healthy range for your height. Being overweight definitely puts excess stress on your spine.
  9. Wear low heels. Exchange your four-inch pumps for flats or low heels (less than 1 inch). High heels may create a more unstable posture, and increase pressure on your lower spine.
  10. Do regular core strengthening exercises. Exercises such as the pelvic tilt, the Bridge, back extensions and other Pilates exercises.  Always listen to your body and if you feel pain in your back (or anywhere else) don’t do it.  Always work at your own level and don’t do exercises that are too hard for you – build up what you can do over time.
  11. Try medications.  Personally, I would say use these as a last resort.  Having said that, there are a wide variety of medications to choose from to help treat the symptoms of back pain. Some medications relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and relax muscle spasms. Many are available over-the-counter at your local pharmacy. Prescription medications, on the other hand, require a doctor’s prescription. Some medications you can try for back pain: acetaminophen (eg, Tylenol), non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (eg, aspirin, ibuprofen), and COX-2 inhibitors (eg, Celebrex).

 

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