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Managing Lower Back Pain

Published on Nov 04, 2022 and last reviewed on Nov 11, 2022   -  6 min read

Abstract

Back pain is a very prevalent problem that many of us experience at some point in our lives. This article explains the causes, risk factors, and ways to manage lower back pain.

What Is Lower Back Pain?

Back pain can be caused by a strain or damage to the back muscles or tendons. Back pain can be a gradual, continuous discomfort or a sharp, sudden pain. It can be consistent or intermittent and get worse with exercise or long periods of sitting. The ache in your low back can be severe and throbbing or dull pain. The discomfort might be continuous or intermittent, as well as positional. After an injury, acute low back pain might arise suddenly. At the same time, chronic back pain will be present for longer than three months. If you have back discomfort for more than 72 hours, consult a doctor.

What Are the Risk Factors of Lower Back Pain?

Back pain can affect anyone, including children and teenagers.

The below factors may increase your chances of having back pain:

What Are the Jobs That Can Cause Lower Back Pain?

A job that requires you to pull, raise, or twist your low back might result in damage and low back pain. Low back discomfort can be caused by long periods of sitting in an awkward position. Knowing if you are at risk for back discomfort is the safest way to avoid it.

The following jobs are some of the most common fields that promote back pain:

  • Airline crew like pilots and baggage handlers.

  • Surgeons.

  • Nurses and healthcare workers.

  • Warehouse workers.

  • Construction workers.

  • Mechanics.

  • Office personnel like computer operators.

  • Carpet installers and cleaners.

  • Farmers (agricultural, dairy).

  • Firefighters and police.

  • Bus and cab drivers.

  • Janitors.

How Is Low Back Pain Diagnosed?

A doctor will need a detailed description of your back pain to properly diagnose your condition. It is a good idea to track when and where your back pain started, what activities you perform, any associated symptoms, and any chronic medical conditions you have.

Tests used to diagnose back pain are:

  • X-ray.

  • Computerized tomography (CT).

  • Myelograms.

  • Electrodiagnostics.

  • Blood tests.

  • Discography.

  • Bone scans.

  • Ultrasound imaging.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

How to Prevent Lower Back Pain?

To keep your back healthy and strong:

  • Low-impact aerobic activities should be done regularly. Those who do not strain or stress their backs can improve their back strength, endurance, and muscle function. Swimming and walking are good options. Discuss which hobbies you might want to explore with your doctor.

  • Strengthen and stretch your muscles. Exercises that help to build your core, such as abdominal and back muscle strengthening, help prepare these muscles to operate together as a natural support for your back.

  • Maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). Obesity puts a burden on the back muscles. If you are overweight, losing weight can help you avoid pain in the back.

  • Quit smoking, as it elevates your chances of developing low back discomfort. The risk rises with the number of cigarettes smoked each day.

  • Keep a smart posture and avoid slouching. Keep your pelvis in a neutral position. Place one foot on a low footstool if you must stand for extended amounts of time to relieve some of the strain on your lower back. Switch your feet. Back muscles can be reduced by good posture.

  • Choose a seat with strong lower back support, armrests, and a swivel base to sit smartly. Maintain the regular curve of your back by placing a pillow or rolled towel in the small of your back. Maintain a level posture with your knees and hips. Alter your position at least once every half an hour.

  • If possible, avoid heavy lifting, but if you must lift something heavy, let your legs perform the hard lifting. Maintain a straight back with no twisting and just bend at the knees. Keep the burden as near to your body as possible. If the thing is heavy or uncomfortable, find a lifting partner.

What Are the Self-Care Methods and How to Manage Lower Back Pain?

Lower back pain treatment methods can be designed to a patient's requirements. Treatment choices include surgery, pharmacological therapies, alternative care, and even home care. Depending on the patient's diagnosis, some therapies may be more effective than others. Essential home treatments for healing mild muscle strain and reducing the symptoms of chronic, severe pain can be effective.

The following are some of the treatment methods:

Find a Physical Therapist:

This can make a considerable difference, especially if the pain has been bothering you for longer than 4 to 6 weeks. These specialists assist you in being more mobile and flexible by using treatments such as electrical stimulation, ultrasound, heat, and muscular relaxation. They can also teach exercises that you can practice on your own to prevent the recurrence of problems. These can help you maintain good posture and the health of your back and abdominal muscles.

Short Rest Period:

Many instances of lower back pain can be relieved by getting rid of vigorous exercise for a short period. Being on rest for more than a few days is not recommended, as it can make healing more difficult.

Heat or Ice Therapy:

The warmth from a bath, a hot water bottle, an electric heating pad, or chemical or adhesive heat wraps can help relax tense muscles and enhance blood flow. Increased blood flow supplies the nutrition and oxygen muscles require to repair, regenerate, and maintain their health. Cold packs reduce swelling in the lower back if it is painful due to inflammation. To avoid tissue injury, covering the skin while applying heat or cold is critical. Providing heat before activity helps relax muscles, allowing for more flexibility and mobility; using ice after activity reduces the chances of a region becoming inflamed and swollen due to exercise.

Over-The-Counter Pain Medications:

Anti-inflammatory drugs like Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen relieve low back discomfort caused by inflamed nerves or muscles. Acetaminophen acts by interfering with the brain's pain impulses. Self-care remedies usually do not require medical supervision, but they should be used with caution and attention. Any drug has the potential for risks and adverse effects. If a patient is unsure about which types of self-care will be most effective, they should consult with a physician before taking any such medication.

Keep Moving, Keep Stretching:

Getting up and exercising can help your persistent back pain, as muscle spasms can be avoided by exercising regularly.

Manipulation or Massage:

Manipulation is a technique used by physical therapists and other health practitioners, such as chiropractors, to move your spine through its full range of motion. Studies show that this is a safe and effective treatment if you have had back discomfort for more than a month. However, you may require multiple sessions. Massage may also be beneficial. People who received either structural massage, which includes soft-tissue treatments to address problems with their muscles or skeleton, or relaxation massage for stroking, kneading, or circular motions to help you relax experienced improved symptoms. These people could get through their daily routines with less difficulty and needed less pain medication than individuals who only received routine care.

Calm Your Mind:

According to research, your mental state has a greater impact on your chances of developing low back pain. People who have chronic pain or have difficulty dealing with life's challenges are nearly three times more likely to suffer from back discomfort than those who do not. That means if you are constantly worried or assume the worst in every circumstance, you are more likely to experience pain. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a type of psychotherapy that can help you manage your symptoms. This exercise trains you to tune out negative thoughts and concentrate on breathing.

Conclusion:

Back pain treatment depends on the type and cause of the pain. Hot or cold packs, exercise, medications, injections, complementary therapy, and surgery could be used to get relief. By improving your physical condition and understanding and practicing good body mechanics, you may be able to avoid or prevent back pain.

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Last reviewed at:
11 Nov 2022  -  6 min read

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