Senior Care - How to Provide Elderly Independence

Tips For Dealing With Lower Back Pain

by Stephen Silva

Lower back pain is fairly common because it can result from twisting your back while lifting or from doing strenuous activity that strains your back. Pain from a muscle strain can take weeks to go away, and that can make you wonder if the pain is from something else such as a compressed nerve or a bad disc. Lower back pain has many causes and different treatments. Here are some tips for dealing with this condition.

Uncover The Cause

The first thing you should do is find out why you're having pain. A visit to the doctor is in order if your pain is very bad and it comes on suddenly. You should also visit the doctor if the pain is mild but lingers for several weeks. Your doctor can tell from your description of the pain and by taking diagnostic tests what is going on. Things to rule out are nerve compressions that cause pain to radiate down your legs, a degenerated disc in your spine, muscle strain, and organ problems such as a kidney infection. Once the cause is known, specific treatment can be undertaken.

Begin With Lifestyle Changes

You'll probably need to make a few changes to be more comfortable with your back pain. It may be aggravated by sitting too long or standing too long. You'll need to change your habits at work and at home. Take a step stool to work so you can alternate standing with one foot elevated to relieve back pressure.

If you do a lot of lifting at work, have your doctor or physical therapist teach you the best way to lift and bend so your back is protected. If you sit all day in an office, adapt your chair so it is ergonomic and supports your back. Be sure the chair fits your body so your feet rest flat on the floor. Alternate standing and sitting as often as possible throughout the day.

Exercise To Strengthen Your Back

While you'll initially want to rest to allow your injury to heal, you should stay active when you have back pain so your back doesn't get stiff and sore. When you're dealing with an episode of acute back pain, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist so you can begin a program of progressive exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles in your back. Strong muscles support your spine and help prevent further injuries while you work and play. Stretching exercises help your spine stay flexible. Doing exercises the right way is important so you don't cause further damage. Supervision from a health professional or trainer is a good idea.

Learn How To Relax

When you're tense or depressed, you can hold the tension and pain in your muscles, including the ones in your lower back. Releasing the tension through gentle massage can help. Also taking yoga classes and learning to meditate may benefit your back pain because they relax you overall. In a relaxed state, you are better able to manage pain and may even experience less pain than when you are sad or anxious.

Try Physical Treatments

Pain from a muscle strain can be intense, especially when your muscles spasm. Place a heating pad or hot water bag on your back to increase blood flow and reduce pain. In some cases, you may get better relief from ice packs. Ice reduces swelling, so if swollen tissues or inflammation in your spine causes your pain, ice may help. Your doctor may recommend muscle relaxers or pain relievers. Spinal injections may be necessary. If your back pain is caused by a muscle strain or tissue damage from an injury, it will get better in a few weeks or months. If your pain is caused by arthritis or some other problem with the discs or joints in your spine, then your pain may be long term and you'll need other ways to cope. Surgery could be one possibility your doctor will discuss with you.

Just don't let back pain make you immobile so you miss out on life. Contact a local specialist, like Valley Chiropractic, for help. Staying active may even reduce the amount of pain you experience each day. While it may take a period of working through various treatment options, even chronic back pain can be managed well enough that you can still lead an active lifestyle. If your back is damaged, you may need to switch jobs and give up certain sports, but staying active to the best of your ability will help you feel better physically and mentally.