Lower back pain is something that more and more people experience. That is especially true today when there are a lot of jobs that require people to sit down in front of their computers. On the other hand, many other people have a sedentary lifestyle nowadays, leading to this problem.
If you’re dealing with back pain symptoms, you understand just how big of an issue it can be. That is especially true when you’re in a great deal of pain. Lower back pain can make it difficult for you to move around, stand up, or walk, significantly affecting the quality of your life. It’s best to try and deal with the problem as soon as possible.
But many people take wrong steps that don’t help them and sometimes worsen the problem. That is why we’ve created this guide that will give you all the information you need to eliminate your lower back pain!
Lower Back Pain – Overview
Before discussing ways to help you deal with lower back pain medically, we will first address its general characteristics. It’s essential to understand this kind of pain and the sensations and learn how to recognize it to treat it the right way.
What Exactly Is the Lower Back?
The spine is the primary support for our whole body’s structure. It supports musculoskeletal elements and allows us to bend, twist, walk, and stand. The spine has many parts, including facet joints, tissues, nerves, intervertebral discs, and vertebrae bones.
They all have a crucial role in controlling sensations, sending signals, promoting movement, and protecting our spine. The lower (lumbar) back comprises five vertebrae, including L1, L2, L3, L4, and L5. This lower spine part supports all of the upper areas of the spine.
The lower back stretches from under the ribcage and down to the pelvis. It withstands most of our body’s weight, carrying, lifting, and all of the stress we put on our bodies. That is why we can have many lower back problems and potentially even bend the lumbar spine.
How Long Does Lower Back Pain Usually Last?
It all depends on the circumstances, lifestyle, and the cause of the pain. In some cases, the pain can be constant and give you trouble throughout the day. On the other hand, pain happens only during certain parts of the day or when you make some movements.
In some cases, lower back pain could be caused by some exercise or unusual movement and last for a day. Short-term or acute pain can go as long as a couple of weeks and down to a few days. With exercise, most people who experience it can resolve it in about a week.
However, sometimes even acute pain can last for around a month. But in most cases, it doesn’t lead to any functional loss.
On the other hand, chronic low back pain usually lasts for at least 12 weeks. The pain continues even after being treated and can go up to a year, becoming chronic.
How to Get Rid of Lower Back Pain?
Research shows that 1 out of 6 people in England suffer from back pain. A lot of these people have issues with the lower back. What’s alarming is that many of them don’t do anything about it or think there isn’t a way out.
But there are many different ways to deal with this issue and avoid chronic lower back pain. The important thing is to visit a physician as soon as possible and act. Here are some ways to completely get rid of lower back pain.
Most people who suffer from some lower back pain are first directed towards physical therapy. In most cases, this therapy will last for around four weeks to see how the treatment progresses.
If the patient isn’t getting better, there might be a need for more aggressive approaches like surgery or medication. Physical therapy can help reduce pain, teach the patient how to behave to avoid further issues, and increase overall function.
Physical therapy can be divided into two categories:
- Active – This kind of therapy involves a lot of stretching and exercise. Patients have to be active and work on their bodies each day. In most cases, this kind of physical therapy is recommended for people with lower back pain issues. Active physical therapy is only avoided when the patient cannot do the exercises because they are in too much pain.
- Passive – Passive therapy doesn’t involve physical effort from the patient. Instead, they are subjected to electrical application, heat stimulation, or ice pack treatment. For example, a patient might go to electrical therapy for a week or two before starting active treatment.
Having a bad diet could make you feel the pain even more. You need to eat anti-inflammatory foods. These foods can lower inflammation or prevent it, leading to a lower chance of chronic lower back pain.
But don’t think your diet can’t stop back pain altogether. It can only help you prevent chronic issues that might cause further complications. At the same time, eating healthy can help you reduce weight and the stress you put on your lower back.
Even losing around 2kg can help reduce stress on your back and help alleviate pain. That means adding more fresh vegetables and fruits to your daily emails. Plants are often rich in antioxidants that reduce the release of free radicals that can cause cell damage and increased inflammation.
Here are some of the anti-inflammatory foods you should consider adding to your diet:
- Salmon tune
- Olive oil
- Food rich in fibre
Foods to remove from your diet:
- All processed foods
- Processed sugar and carbs
- Sunflower oil
- Snack food
Mindfulness and Meditation
Many people are sceptic about meditation, but more and more proof shows its benefits. UK people are more stressed than ever due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. This stress can cause numerous mental issues and even physical pain, such as lower back pain.
Apart from helping you with your mental well-being, meditation can also help reduce back pain and other physical discomforts. When people meditate, they turn off the “fight or flight” reflex that’s written in their nervous system. Instead, they “turn on” the resting part that helps them relax and repair.
At the same time, there is reason to believe that meditation can help people eliminate the fear of pain that could cause anxiety and additional pain. The first step is finding a meditation instructor to help you learn the basic meditation techniques you can use.
Over time, you can get enough experience and learn meditation techniques online on your own and try different things. What’s best about meditation is that there isn’t a single “ideal” position for the best results. No, you don’t have to sit in a cross-legged position for over an hour and cause stress on your lower back.
As we mentioned earlier, most people have lower back pain caused by their everyday habits. The habits below may not seem dangerous, but doing them over a long time can lead to severe back pain.
Sitting for a long time
First of all, many people nowadays sit for many hours every day. Sitting puts pressure on discs located in the lower back. Sadly, a lot of people have desk jobs that require them to sit at work for eight hours or more. At the same time, those people usually get comfortable with that kind of lifestyle and end up sitting at home the same way.
However, simple changes like getting up every hour and doing some basic stretches can make a huge difference. At the same time, it’s essential to find a good chair that lets you sit properly or even a standing desk so that you can switch to an upright position to reduce stress.
A considerable percentage of people with lower back pain feel the most anguish in the morning after waking up. That is often due to poor sleeping habits or sleeping on a bad mattress. For example, old mattresses can become uneven, lumpy, and soft.
That results in contortion overnight and increased pressure on different body parts, including the lower back. Ideally, the mattress should be medium-firm and not hard as a rock because that is equally bad for your lower back.
People often slouch, stoop, and sit poorly. They put a lot of strain on their ligaments and muscles in those positions, causing excessive pressure on their backs. It comes down to the simplest things like putting pressure on your toes instead of your heels while walking or standing.
On the other hand, some people drop their shoulders to the front and bend their backs. All of these things are harmful and can lead to issues over time. Try to analyse your habits and work on changing them. It takes time and effort but will help you in the long run.
Injections are some of the treatments for lower back pain. In most cases, these injections include numbing drugs and steroids. Injection treatment is usually used for people with a lot of pain who can’t reduce inflammation using any other therapy.
Apart from treating inflammation, these injections can also help with nerve damage. They are often used with radiculopathy cases, which is a sharp pain in the lower back that spreads to the neck, arms, or legs. Radiculopathy is usually caused by herniated disks or degenerative disc disease.
The injection is usually applied to the area around the damaged or inflamed nerves. There are three types of injections doctors can prescribe for this use:
- Epidural injections – These injections include corticosteroids and anaesthetics and are injected around the spinal cord. They relieve back pain immediately, but their effects don’t last long. In other words, they aren’t a good option for people suffering from long-term pain.
- Nerve block injections – Nerve block injections are given around the nerve area and contain anaesthetics or numbing drugs. In most cases, they contain lidocaine, and they usually provide complete pain relief shortly after the injection. Compared to epidural injections, they offer better results.
- Discogram injection – A discography or discogram is a diagnostic test used to determine the source of lower back pain. A variety of injections are used in different areas to see what is causing the problem and provide further back pain treatment.
General practitioners can sometimes recommend painkiller medications to alleviate back pain. Even though medicines can provide relief, pain is likely to come back because they only cure the symptoms. In most cases, painkillers are prescribed to help people reduce pain before getting another therapy to improve their condition.
Here are some of the most commonly prescribed painkillers:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – These drugs don’t require a prescription, and some of the most popular options are Motrin, Ibuprofen, and Aspirin. They can reduce inflammation, fever, and pain.
- Antidepressants – Even though these medications aren’t explicitly made for pain issues, they can help with chronic pain. Commonly prescribed options are Amitriptyline, Doxepin, Anafranil, and Imipramine.
- Muscle-relaxing medication – Muscle relaxants help reduce muscle spasms that might be causing pain. Doctors sometimes prescribe them, especially when the patient can’t relax due to pain. Some standard options are Tizanidine, Metaxalone, and Cyclobenzaprine.
Exercises to Prevent Lower Back Pain
There are a lot of different exercises and stretches you can do at home to prevent back pain. It is vital to create a workout schedule and stick to it. Let’s explore some of the best exercises anyone can do at home or in the gym.
Why it’s good: The bridge strengthens your hips, lower back, and gluteus muscles. It’s a straightforward exercise; everyone who performs it correctly can correctly learn to stabilise their spine.
How to do it: To do a bridge, lie flat on your back, and put your hands alongside your body. Then, bend your knees until your feet are flat. Squeeze your stomach and bottom, and raise your hips as long as you can while leaning on your shoulders. Hold the highest positions for around 20 seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat.
Why it’s good: Bird dog helps you create stability in your lower back. The exercise engages the back and core muscles. It can help you stabilise your spine when flexing, rotating, or extending with some movement.
How to do it: Start by standing on your needs and hands like a dog. Then, extend one arm forward as much as possible while keeping it in line with your body, and do the same with your leg on the opposite side. Keep your limbs in this position for about five seconds, then switch with the other two.
Why it’s good: Pelvic tilt is one of the most straightforward exercises out there. But if done regularly, you can ease the tension in your back and strengthen your abdominal muscles.
How to do it: Lie on the floor as you do with bridges. Squeeze your stomach and contract as hard as you can as if you’re ready for someone to punch you. Hold this position for ten seconds and breathe normally.
Why it’s good: Swimming is a low-impact activity that doesn’t put pressure on your lower back and spine. However, this is only true for backstroke and freestyle techniques. Those movements will strengthen your back and leg muscles.
How to do it: Swim backstroke and freestyle while keeping your speed moderate and adding as little contortion and rotation during the movement as possible.
Why it’s good: Hamstring stretches reduce tension in these muscles and lengthen them. Tight hamstrings are often some of the leading causes of lower back pain. Lower back muscle tightness is never a good thing.
How to do it: Lie on your back with one knee bent and foot flat. Keep your other leg straight and raise it towards your chest as much as possible. Grab the leg with your arms and pull it towards you while keeping your shoulders on the ground. Hold the leg in that position for about ten seconds.
If you’re experiencing back pain, find an expert therapist and get a consultation before you start working on your lower back. It’s critical to get a proper diagnosis so that you can understand what’s the best course of action.
Don’t take matters into your hands without consulting a professional; never postpone treatment as your lower back pain can significantly affect your health.
How to get rid of sharp lower back pain?
Back pain symptoms can be dealt with in many different ways. The most common option is physical therapy accompanied by exercises. However, in some severe cases, you would have to undergo surgery. Start with physical therapy and if you aren’t getting better, consult with your physician.
Which exercises to avoid with lower back pain?
Not all exercises and stretches are good for lower back pain, even though they affect that area. Some of the activities you should avoid are toe touches, sit-ups, leg lifts, rolling your back with a foam roller, crunches, running, deadlifts, and all of the exercises that put too much strain on your ligaments and muscles.