Lower Back Pain

Are you suffering from low back pain?

Are you suffering from low back pain?

If you have lower back pain, you are not alone. Nearly everyone at some point has back pain that interferes with work, routine daily activities, or recreation. It has been estimated that Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on low back pain, the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work.  These statistics will mean nothing to you if you are simply looking for a solution but at least you now know you are not on your own.

Most acute back pain is mechanical in nature — the result of trauma to the lower back or a disorder such as arthritis. Traumatic to the back is not generally what you or I may consider traumatic.  Due to the complexity of the movements of the spine we can be guilty at times of over stressing it without really knowing.  Pain from trauma may be caused by a sports injury, work around the house or in the garden, or a sudden jolt such as a car accident or other stress on spinal bones and tissues. Symptoms may range from muscle ache to shooting or stabbing pain, limited flexibility and/or range of motion, or an inability to stand straight. Occasionally, pain felt in one part of the body may “radiate” from a disorder or injury elsewhere in the body.

It is not normal to suffer from back pain!  This is something I explain to many of my patients tell me on a daily basis.  There is always a reason as to why.

What causes lower back pain?

As people age, bone strength and muscle elasticity and tone tend to decrease. The discs begin to lose fluid and flexibility, which decreases their ability to cushion the vertebrae.  People of any age however can suffer with back pain for many different reasons.

Pain in the back can occur when, for example, someone lifts something too heavy or overstretches, causing a sprain, strain, or spasm in one of the muscles or ligaments in the back. If the spine becomes overly strained or compressed, a disc may rupture or bulge outward. This rupture may put pressure on one of the more than 50 nerves rooted to the spinal cord that control body movements and transmit signals from the body to the brain. When these nerve roots become compressed or irritated, back pain results.

Quick tips to a healthier back

A program of tailored regular low-impact exercises, such as walking, swimming, or stationary bike riding 30 minutes a day can increase muscle strength and flexibility. Yoga can also help stretch and strengthen muscles and improve posture. Ask your Osteopath for a list of low-impact exercises appropriate for your age and or condition designed to strengthen the lower back and abdominal muscles.

  • Always stretch gently before exercise or other strenuous physical activity.
  • Do not slouch when standing or sitting, aiming to reduce the stress on your lower back<. When sitting aim to keep your knees slightly lower than your hips.
  • At home or work, make sure your work surface is at a comfortable height for you.
  • Sit in a chair with good lumbar support, ask your Osteopath which size best suits your back as peoples curvatures vary widely.
  • Keep your shoulders back. Switch sitting positions often and periodically walk around the office or gently stretch muscles to relieve tension. A pillow or rolled-up towel placed behind the small of your back can provide some lumbar support. If you must sit for a long period of time, rest your feet on a low stool or a stack of books.
  • Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
  • Sleep on your side to reduce any curve in your spine. Always sleep on a firm surface.
  • Make sure your pillow height is suitable for you.
  • Don’t try to lift objects too heavy for you. Lift with the strength in your legs, tighten your stomach muscles, and keep your straight back. Keep the object close to your body. Do not twist when lifting.
  • Maintain proper nutrition and diet to reduce and prevent excessive weight, especially weight around the waistline that taxes lower back muscles.

If you smoke, quit. Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine and causes the spinal discs to degenerate.

Be good to your back and book in for a check up today. Prevention can be the best approach at times.

All our Osteopaths have also been trained in Naturopathy and are able to advise on diet matters.