OFF AND ON LOW BACK PAIN FOR YEARS?? May be more treatable than you think!
Spring cleaning, gardening and an enthusiasm for the nicer weather often leads to a spike in low back issues. While some back injuries can be severe and require major medical intervention, many feel worse than they really are.
excerpt from Harvard Health Publication
According to the Harvard Special Health Report Men’s Health: Fifty and Forward, back pain affects about four in five Americans at some point in their lives and equally strikes men and women.
Age is often the culprit. Over time, the bones and joints in your lower back begin to change. Your discs (the structures that serve as cushions between the bones in the spine) tend to wear out and sometimes become fragmented. These structural alterations sometimes cause pain.
Another cause of low back pain, although it occurs less often, is a herniated disc. Sometimes, a disc pushes outside the space between the bones and compresses a nerve at the point where it branches off the spinal cord. When the sciatic nerve that leads into the buttocks and leg is affected, the pain is called sciatica.
Yet, most cases of low back pain stem from strain or sprain due to simple overuse, unaccustomed activity, excessive lifting, or an accident. In most cases the best move is to wait and see if the pain resolves on its own. If the pain does not improve after three to four days, then it’s time to see a doctor.
*end excerpt from Harvard Health Publication.
– By Matthew Solan
Executive Editor, Harvard Men’s Health Watch
Many back injuries come from a weakened core, tight flexors and weak/tight hamstrings that pull on the hip muscles causing muscle imbalances that result in adhesions that can lead to injury and pain. The simple act of sitting at a desk, working on a computer and/or driving in a car for extended periods of time create a perfect environment for low back pain to thrive. Many of us can’t avoid driving, sitting, and electronic use, so what to do to help out back health and eliminate pain?
Stand and stretch throughout the day.
- Take a moment to stand from your desk and slowly roll your shoulders back 10 times, inhaling/exhaling with each roll.
- Hold your desk for balance, stand on your right leg and grab your left foot with your left hand to stretch the top of your thigh and flexor. Keep your left kneecap pointed at the floor. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- Take a seat and cross your legs, placing the ankle joint of your left foot on the top of your right thigh. Flex your left foot. Press downwards on you left thigh to enhance the stretch. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the right.
“Oh, it doesn’t need ice, it’s fine” is the birth of an injury. Ice reduces inflammation and applying ice to an affected area can ease swelling, pain and promote healing when done immediately following an injury. Alternating heat and cold after 48 hours can provide the best of both. Heat relaxes aching muscles and increases blood flow, which helps the healing process.
Warm, stretch, cool.
- Warm up muscles with hot water or heating pad
- Stretch or gently move through a range of motion that does not cause pain
- Depending on the severity, try a myofascial release technique
- Foam Rolling, Baseball
- Apply ice to reduce inflammation, swelling and pain
Happy muscles like to move. While heavy lifting and ballistic movements are not recommended, gentle movement will keep the muscles loose and may lessen spasm. Inactivity, including bed rest or standing/sitting for extended periods of time may challenge the back muscles and increase strain and pain.
Exercise helps build strong, flexible muscles that will be less prone to injury. Work with a qualified healthcare provider to determine a strength and flexibility plan to reduce back injury. In addition to conventional stretches and strengthening routines, you may be a candidate for…
• acupuncture, in which therapists insert hair-thin sterilized needles into precise points in the body to release blocked energy
• spinal manipulation, in which chiropractors apply pressure directly to the body to correct spinal alignment
• therapeutic massage to relax aching muscles
• movement therapies, such as yoga and tai chi, which can help stretch and strengthen back muscles.
Check in with an appropriate healthcare professional to evaluate how you move to make sure you are not negating all the hard work you do to keep a healthy back!
We have many of the above services to help keep your back healthy and free of pain including massage, acupuncture, functional fitness training, yoga and stretch & core classes.