Lower back pain is one of the most common ailments there are, affecting almost 80% of all people at one time or another in their lives. Although the causes vary, changes in the lumbar, or lower back due to musculoskeletal damage are usually found 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. And while these structures usually do what they need to and keep you upright, there are plenty of things in the lower back that can cause pain.
Most of the time, lower back pain gets better on its own within a few days or weeks. It can be considered chronic when it persists for more than three months. Whatever caused it, there are some simple and cost-effective things you can do to strengthen your back and keep lower back pain at bay.
What can you do to help lower back pain?
Rather than constantly taking over-the-counter medications like Tylenol and Ibuprofen for pain, here are a few things you can do to improve your lower back pain:
Upgrade your workspace
If you work at a desk job all day, you might have your workstation to thank for your back pain. Evaluating your space to make it more suitable can help you alleviate lower back pain and keep it from getting worse.
A few key things to try:
- Get a better chair, preferably one that’s adjustable. Your chair should be at a height to where your feet rest fully and flat on the floor. Your knees should also be level with your hips. If the back rest in your desk chair doesn’t adequately support your back, you may wish to get a lumbar pillow or use a rolled-up towel to support the curve of your lower back.
- Adjust your computer monitor. Looking too high or too low at your monitor can seriously affect your posture and contribute to back pain. Your monitor should be about an arm’s length away from your chair with the top portion of the screen just slightly below eye level.
Check out our blog on upgrading your workspace for more tips!
Exercise and stretch to increase flexibility and reduce pain
According to findings published in Annals of Internal Medicine, there’s a lot of evidence proving that yoga has fantastic short- and long-term effects on lower back pain. Yoga uses slow, controlled movements to stretch your muscles and strengthen the body. It also promotes stress relief, helping to reduce tension many of us commonly hold in our lower backs.
Other stretches that are great for back pain include:
Back Flexion Stretch. While lying on your back, pull both knees to the chest while flexing the head forward to comfortably stretch your mid and lower back.
Knee to Chest Stretch. Lie on your back with your knees bent and both heels on the floor, then place both of your hands behind one knee and pull it toward the chest, this stretches the gluteus and piriformis muscles in the buttock.
Kneeling Lunge Stretch. Start on both knees and move one leg forward so the foot is flat on the ground, keeping weight evenly distributed through both hips rather than on one side or the other.
Place both hands on the top of the thigh, and gently lean the body forward to feel a stretch in the front of the other leg. This stretch affects the hip flexor muscles, which attach to the pelvis and can impact posture if it gets too tight.
Hot and cold therapy
You can use both ice and heat to your advantage if you’re experiencing lower back pain. However, the order you do them in is important here.
When you have a new or recent injury, first you ice it. After about a day or so, you can start to use heat.
If you’ve done something to injure your lower back, start by applying a cold compress during the first 24-48 hours. Use it for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times per day as necessary. Just make sure to wait at least 10 minute between applications.
While it may be tempting to apply heat after an injury, doing so too early can cause your body to release even more inflammatory compounds into the affected area. However, after one to two days after a recent injury – and for chronic pain – you can apply a heating pad.
To protect yourself, remember not to apply a cold or hot compress directly on your skin. Wrap the ice pack or heating pad in a cloth first to act as a buffer. Don’t fall asleep with them on either – if you think you might, or you’re on medications that make you drowsy – play it safe and use them once you’re well rested.
Quantum Pain and Sports Medicine can help
As we said, low back pain is extremely common, and it’s something our interventional pain specialists are trained to handle. If you have lower back pain due to an injury or any other chronic or acute conditions, call us and set up and appointment.
We can help you set up a pain management plan, but we also take a holistic approach that factors in all the things that could be affecting your health. Things like incorporating an anti-inflammatory diet, increasing specific kinds of exercise and more can not only help your pain in the short term, they also help you improve your overall health and well-being for long-term relief.
Call 469.913.6136 or contact us to learn more today.