Feeling pain on the lower back is unavoidable. In fact, it is the most common type of back pain. You will feel lower back pain at some point in your life. According to statistics, lower back pain affects more than 80% of people.
There are two types of back pain: acute back pain, which can last for a few days up to a few weeks, and chronic back pain, which lasts longer than three months. The treatment for your lower back pain would depend on the type of back pain that you are experiencing.
Lower Back Pain Causes
Lower back pain is usually caused by injuries brought about when lifting heavy weights or objects with the wrong form. Poor body mechanics or sudden movements when lifting heavy things cause strains or muscle sprains that lead to lower back pain.
Some diseases or conditions can also cause lower back pain such as sciatica, scoliosis, arthritis, kyphosis, ruptured or herniated disc, lordosis, cancer of the spinal cord, infections of the spine, multiple myeloma, or kidney infections. Other conditions that result to lower back pain are strains, sprains, disc injury, abnormal spine curvatures, spinal stenosis, fibromyalgia, spondylosis, spondylitis, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, cancer, pregnancy, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, prostatitis, spinal cord abscess, threatened miscarriage or abortion, cervical dysplasia, uterine prolapse, whiplash, osteomyelitis, abdominal aortic aneurysm, urethritis, and other problems in the lumbar spine.
Lower Back Pain Remedies
There are so many ways to treat lower back pain whether at home or elsewhere. Medicine is an instant relief and can help ease the pain temporarily but there are other ways to relieve lower back pain aside from it. Here are some ways to treat lower back pain:
1. Do home care
The easiest way to help relieve lower back pain is by treating it at home. Once you start to feel the pain in your lower back, stop all the physical activities that you normally do and apply ice on your lower back. Apply ice on your lower back for the first 48 up to 72 hours before switching to heat pads. You can alternate putting ice and heat in order to relax muscles. This is a great acute back pain relief. Take pain relievers that you can get over-the-counter such as Tylenol or Advil in order relieve the pain in addition to the hot and cold compress.
Avoid lying on your back when you have lower back pain because it may be uncomfortable. Try to lay on your side then bend your knees. Put a pillow in between your legs. If you don’t feel any discomfort while lying on your back put a rolled-up towel or a pillow beneath your thighs to lessen the pressure on your lower back.
2. Take medicines
Aside from over-the-counter pain killers, doctors may prescribe muscle relaxants, narcotic drugs, non steroidal inflammatory drugs, corticosteroid injections, and steroids depending on the condition associated to your back pain.
Remember that various conditions can cause lower back pain. With this in mind, you might need to take medicines to treat those conditions first before addressing your back pain.
3. Apply a pain relief cream
You can buy various pain relief creams in pharmacies or even online. Most pain relief creams can provide relief to back pains. Creams containing capsaicin, a compound that can be found in hot peppers, help relieve pain. One study proved that capsaicin cream is actually helpful in treating pain caused by osteoarthritis.
Pain relief creams containing menthol give a cooling effect which can temporarily numb the pain. Applying menthol to your skin can desensitize the pain receptors in the body. Be careful in applying menthol to your skin because too much menthol can make a person be more sensitive to pain.
4. Opt for physical therapy
If you have been experiencing pain for quite some time, the best thing to do is seek help from a physical therapist. A physical therapist can help you manage or totally remove the pain by teaching you exercises that you can do at home or on your own whenever you feel the symptoms. Another good thing about consulting a therapist is that they can offer various solutions or techniques to solve your back pain problems such as electrical stimulation which is the most common technique, heat, muscle relaxation, and ultrasound.
Mechanical problems with the muscles, spine, ligaments, and tendons usually cause lower right back pain. Other causes include kidney stones, appendicitis, and infections. The right kind of treatment for this problem is through physical therapy or surgery, depending on the cause.
5. Keep moving and stretching
Sometimes, all you need to do is to constantly move and stretch your body. You might be pretty scared in going back to your normal routine but if you do some stretching and constantly keep on moving, it will improve your chronic back pain. Stretching and exercise keeps your muscles strong and prevents spasms.
People who remain to be active despite feeling pain in the lower back, are more flexible compared to those who don’t want to risk it and stay in bed to rest their bodies. You can do exercises that stretch and strengthen your body as these are the best kinds of exercises for lower back pain. You can do walking, swimming, do yoga, ride a stationary bike, or even do low-impact exercises.
Doing yoga and stretching can help ease the pain and also improve back movement as shown in studies. Those who did intensive stretching or yoga felt better compared to those who didn’t. The pain was lesser or totally gone after a couple of months and they either lessened or totally stopped taking medicines for pain management.
Doing stretching and other light exercises should not hurt or make the pain much worse. If you feel more pain while doing yoga or stretching, inform your doctor or your physical therapist to make sure that you are doing the right exercises and you are not making the pain worse in your lower back.
6. Massage or Manipulation
Massage is a good back pain treatment. It helps relieve the body from various kinds of pain. Based on research, people who got either relaxation massage or structural massage had improved symptoms of lower back pain after 10 weeks. They were able to perform their daily activities easily and they also used less pain killers compared to those who didn’t opt for a massage.
Medical professionals like chiropractors and physical therapists perform manipulation on patients by using various techniques in moving your spine through its full range of movement. Manipulation is a good lower back pain relief if you have been experiencing spine pain or lower back pain for more than a month. It is safe and effective but you would need a couple of sessions before the back pain goes away.When looking for chiropractors, physical therapists, and massage therapists, make sure that you go to qualified health professionals who have enough experience and who know what they are doing.
7. Calm your mind and engage your brain
Lower back pain can be caused by anxiety. According to studies, your state of mind can affect the chances of getting lower back pain. People who have high anxiety levels or are having challenges in facing what life throws at them are likely to experience lower back pain compared to normal people.
The way the brain processes and interprets pain plays an important role in how one perceives pain. You can actually train your brain to ignore or at least lessen the pain symptoms by calming your mind and finding activities that make you happy.
8. Get enough sleep
Insomnia and other sleep disorders result in chronic lower back pains. Around two thirds of people with chronic back pain actually suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. If you don’t get enough sleep, it can make your back pain worse. You need to stop this unending cycle by addressing your sleep problems first before addressing your back problems.
9. Manage stress
Stress causes a lot of illnesses including lower back pain. It can trigger painful spasms and muscle tension. If you think that a traumatic experience or a long-term stress is the culprit for your back pain, you can try various stress-relief techniques like performing mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery.
Try to avoid stress as much as possible to avoid worsening your lower back pain or to simply avoid having back pains.
10. Stretch your hamstrings
Having tight hamstrings can also lead to lower back pain but people often overlook this fact. The hamstrings are located in the back of the thighs and so so when the hamstrings are too tight, the sacroiliac joints and the lower back get stressed causing pain in the lower back. To avoid having tight hamstrings, stretch your hamstrings at least twice a day and do it carefully.
11. Do core exercises
The muscles in the back and abs play an important role in supporting the lower spine. We don’t normally get to workout these muscles on a normal day especially if we don’t really go to gym or workout quite often. These muscles need to be targeted through exercise.
Look for exercises that will engage your core muscles. You don’t have to do complicated ab exercises. Simply sitting upright on an exercise ball for 30 minutes is already enough. You can also do ab exercises for 20 to 30 minutes a day.
12. Proper ergonomics at work
Proper ergonomics at work can help lessen back pain and other injuries. Improper posture can cause back pain and muscle aches. Use ergonomics in a workstation to help reduce back pain because of bad posture. Design your workstation in such a way that you won’t need to hunch forward to see the computer monitor or reach far for the mouse.
13. Change shoes and avoid wearing high heels
You need to wear shoes that fit you or that offer support to avoid getting muscle strains in the back, neck, and legs. The right shoes for you depends on your feet. For example, if you are flat footed, you can’t wear shoes that are flat because it will only add strain on your back and on your feet. You also can’t wear wedged shoes because you have a tendency of tripping a lot plus it can also cause strain in your back and legs. The best footwear for your is something that has cushioning.
Avoid wearing high heels because they throw off the body’s alignment and create an unstable posture increasing pressure on the lower spine. This eventually causes lower back pain. Wearing high heels for long periods can cause back pains.
14. Apply arnica
Arnica is a homeopathic solution that one can apply directly to the skin to treat bruising, swelling, minor injuries, and muscle pain.
You can use arnica either in gel or in cream form. They both have the same effect. Although there isn’t enough proof that arnica is effective in soothing the muscles and relieving pain, it doesn’t have that much side effects and some people who have used it find it helpful.
In one case study, arnica actually helped relieve pain from chronic osteoarthirits when it was combined with massage and acupuncture.
If none of the remedies or treatments work and for severe cases, the doctor may require surgery. There are several types of surgery depending on the condition that needs to be treated or addressed. Never opt for surgery if there are still other methods for lower back pain treatment.
For sciatica which affects more than just the lower back, sciatica treatment varies depending on the type of sciatica that you have. If you have acute sciatica, the best sciatica pain relief is to alternate hot and cold compression, do light exercises like stretching, walking, or yoga, and take over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen. If you have chronic sciatica, the best sciatica relief is by doing physical therapy, taking painkillers, or undergoing surgery in case none of the other methods work and the pain is getting worse.