Lower back pain is a very common complaint among patients of all ages. This is actually one of the most common reasons that one goes to see their doctor and/or for someone to miss work. Back pain also affects a large amount of peoples’ activities of daily living which may include being able to do chores around their house, being able to get themselves dressed each day, and/or any sort of mobilization, just to name a few. When you have back pain, it is worthwhile to figure out what is the reasoning you have back pain so then you are able to know what needs to actually be modified for early treatment.
First, let’s review the symptoms of back pain. These symptoms can be characterized with a few of the following symptoms:
- Decreased range of motion and/or stiffness
- Numbness or tingling
- Losing balance or coordination
Next, let’s review the reasoning one may have back pain. There is a wide variety of reasons one can have back pain including:
- With an injury
- Prolonged sitting
- Sleeping positions
- Improper body mechanics
Back pain can be treated with a different amount of modalities at home. The treatments may also be specific to the reasoning of the back pain. These treatments can include:
- Ice and/or heat
- NSAIDs including Ibuprofen, Aleve, Advil
- Analgesics including Tylenol
- Strengthening abdominal muscles
Resting and NSAIDs consistently for approximately two weeks is one of the first line treatments for back pain no matter what the cause of the back pain is. In regards to NSAIDs, it is always important to consult with your healthcare provide to ensure this line of treatment is appropriate for you and is not contraindicated. Analgesics are also beneficial to low back pain, but with analgesics these simply help decrease the pain. Whereas, with NSAIDs these help to decrease any inflammation which essentially would be what would be causing the low back pain. Unfortunately, if a you are on a blood thinner, ulcers, or kidney problems, NSAIDs are contraindicated. There are other contraindications to NSAIDs, but those are the most common. In addition to medication management, heat/ice are good to use to help alleviate pain. Always ensure to only use heat/ice for about 20 minutes at a time. Using the analogy 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off is a good baseline to use.
Low back pain can have a muscular component. Stretching daily can help with better posture, increase flexibility, and release tension – just to name a few benefits. Many times people only stretch when they feel as though needed, but having a routine regimen is good not only for low back pain but can prevent any low back pain. There different core exercises which strengthen your abdominal muscles to help with low back pain. Having a stronger core helps to prevent any increased stress/strain on the lower back.
If your back pain is as a result of an injury, seeking healthcare input would be one of the first things to do. The reasoning is to see what the extent of the injury is from the healthcare provider and to at that point receive a healthcare provider directed treatment regimen/recommendations.
At times it is difficult to avoid sitting for long periods of time. When sitting for long periods of time it is imperative to take breaks to stand and stretch. Not only does standing and stretching help you will your back, but it also helps with circulation. If sitting at a desk is part of your daily job, ensuring proper body ergonomics is very beneficial to preventing back pain. Whether you have a sedentary job or are traveling, it is useful to use the standard of standing every 20-30 minutes to help any back pain that may develop. Standing is a preference over sitting when it comes to ergonomics. If standing is not an option, then making sure to sit with proper ergonomics.
It is always important to stay away from activities that provoke the pain. Appropriate body mechanics are very beneficial, whether you have developed back pain or even to prevent the development of any back pain.
Proper body mechanics include:
- Bending at the knees and hips
- Not lifting more than you are able to
- Keeping your back straight
- Use your arm and leg muscles
Many times one thing that people do not think about regarding to body mechanics is the way of sleeping each night. When sleeping, one should be cognizant to ensure to not sleep on their stomach. Sleeping on one’s stomach can cause lower back pain. Therefore, for back pain that is associated with sleeping and/or ways to prevent back pain include these following sleeping positions:
- On your back with a pillow underneath your knees
- On one side with a pillow in between your knees