Low back pain is an area of significant concern as it affects upwards of 80% of the population at some point in their life. It is the second most common reason we visit our doctor (the first being an upper respiratory infection). Low back pain affects males and females equally and is most common between 30-50 years of age. Most causes of low back pain are mechanical and non-organic, meaning that they are not caused by something like a fracture, infection or cancer. Low back pain can interfere with our daily work and recreational activities as it takes a toll on our bodies.
Some causes of low back pain are due to:
- work related injuries (sudden movements, poor posture, repetitive movements)
- sports injuries
- car accidents
- improper lifting
- disc degeneration
Any of these things can cause your spine to shift out of its’ normal position (alignment) and possibly affect your range of motion (how well you move in all directions). Improper alignment and movement puts added pressure on your joints, muscles and nerves in the area – which are commonly the cause of low back pain.
Tips to Prevent Low-Back Pain
- maintain a health weight and diet
- remain active and avoid prolonged inactivity or bed rest
- warm up/stretch before exercising or performing any other physical activity
- maintain proper posture (during all activities, not just at your desk)
- wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes
- sleep on a mattress of medium firmness to minimize curves in your body (this also depends on what type of sleeper you are)
- lift with your knees, keep object close to your body and do not twist when lifting
Are you experiencing any of these symptoms?
- leg pain with numbness/tingling, loss of strength
- back pain when you cough or sneeze
- difficulty standing up after sitting for a period of time
- stiffness in the morning that eases when you start to move around
- pain in your hip/buttocks/thigh/knee/foot.
- inability to bend equally to each side
- unbalanced posture – start from a head tilt, unleveling of shoulders and pelvis
- pain that worsens with time
If you said yes to any of these, consult a health care professional such as a Chiropractic Doctor, to assess your specific condition and the best course of action that is right for you.
Here are some back facts to keep in mind if you find it bothering you:
Rest vs Active
When injured we are often told to rest until the injury has healed. If you are experiencing minor back pain, avoiding exercise maybe the worst thing you can do . It is important to remain active when recovering from an injury – remember to keep your condition in mind and don’t overdo it! Your intensity should decrease but frequency should not. Those who remain active usually recover quicker.
Hot vs. Cold
This is an area of heated debate – heat or ice! Right after an injury a warm bath may sound soothing, but should be avoided. Getting into a hot bath can make the inflamed area worse as heat can increase the inflammatory response in an acute injury. Ice should be applied to an injury for 10-15 minutes, let the body return to normal temperature before reapplying. This can be done for the first 48-72 hours post injury. Heat can be introduced after 72 hours and applied in the same manner.
The spine consists of 26 bones (vertebrae) and are cushioned by discs. The discs act to protect the bones as a shock absorber of daily activities like walking, lifting and twisting. Injury and wear and tear can cause these discs to weaken allowing for the inner portion of the list to protrude out of the outer portion – and this is a slipped or herniated disc. Depending on the severity of protrusion, can cause varying levels of pain and discomfort.
A slipped disc can revert back to its normal position spontaneously but can take upwards of six weeks to fully recover. When a slipped disc is present, it is best to stay moderately active and avoid inactivity.
Back pain should never become a normal part of life. As we age, we may be susceptible to certain conditions, but with all of the treatment options available, it should not be a permanent part of your aging process.
Article written and submitted by Dr. Anita Chopra, D.C. of A Remarkable Me Therapeutic Centre