Most of us, at some point in our lives will suffer with lower back pain. Now for most of us these episodes will quickly resolve (within 6-8weeks) but some episodes can be severe and alarming. Low back pain can be debilitating and have a big impact on a someone’s life but as most people get pain in their lower back at some point in their life it is important to remember it is rarely serious.
Figuring out and fully understanding the triggers for low back pain could help reduce the likelihood of future episodes. Here are a few useful factors to remember if you get lower back pain.
We now know that when people stay active, even when they are in pain they have a better outcome in the long run. This is something that patients often question but gone are the days of bed rest for back pain. In fact, it appears that the longer a person stays in bed due to low back pain, the worse their pain, level of disability and ability to work becomes.
Your body wants to move, that’s what it is designed to do! You want to let your low back pain settle, but you don’t want it to get stiff and weaker. There is a fine line – you want to keep moving but try to avoid aggravating movements especially in the first few days. Often people are cautious about returning to their usual activities, but it is important to aid your recovery. Patients are usually most cautious about bending, twisting, lifting and any impact activities because they think
these movements will cause further damage. However, these movements are safe, even if initial sore and I always encourage my patients to get back to their ‘normal’ as soon as possible.
If you do get pain when doing any of these movements, use it as a little warning and think could you do the activity you’re doing differently? Could you use your legs more? Bend your knees instead of your lower back? It might be your bodies way of saying that is isn’t ready for you to do that right now, allow your body time to adjust. For example, people who are new to running are at an increased risk of pain or injury if they start running more than 3 x per week. This doesn’t mean they should give it up, but that they should run less than 3 x per week for a while and allow their body to adapt and adjust.
One bit of advice I always give to patients with acute lower back pain is to avoid sitting on soft sofas / armchairs – if you are in a lot of pain it is often difficult to get off a sofa, so avoid sitting on it in the first place!
Exercise is good for back pain and the best exercise is one that the patient enjoys because they are more likely to continue it in the long run – which we know
is helpful! I often give patients exercises and stretches to do at home, but I like to give them a small amount to start with. This is so we can figure out which exercises / stretches suit that particular patient because I think it is important that the patient can feel safe in the knowledge that those exercises help with their pain. It helps make them more confident in managing their symptoms and creates less fear around their pain.
X-Ray or MRI Results.
Getting imaging done for a lower back injury should be a last resort in most circumstances as the results can often show other un-related findings.Research has shown that people who are pain free can have disc bulges and severe disc & facet joint degeneration . These findings can just be normal signs of ageing – like wrinkles & that symptoms do not always correlate to physical findings. Sometimes tests and further investigations are useful, but this is not always the case with lower back pain and can in some circumstances distract the patient from doing more helpful activities like exercise.
There Is No Such Thing As A Quick Fix!
I get asked about different back care gadgets, devices and creams regularly. But the truth is there are no quick fixes! These quick fixes may feel like they have momentarily helped but often back pain does come and go an
d it probably has little to do with the new quick fix the patient has tried. These quick fixes also distract patients from continuing with what they know helps – exercises, stretches, addressing their stress levels and their sleep. It is important to address all aspects of your life, not just physical ones when you are in pain.
The key thing to remember is, if it sounds too good to be true… then it probably is!
Your Lower Back Is Not As Delicate As You May Think!
Think how much you’re lower back does and it is only once it becomes painful that we pay it any attention!
Discs, bones and joints don’t go out of place or ‘slip’ your back is much stronger than that. If a practitioner tells you they are putting the joint back or putting the disc back into place this is simply untrue. These structures are strong, weight bearing joints and our discs help dissipate the forces through your spine. And these structures withstand a lot! If you have been watching any of the Winter Olympics, you may have seen some of the falls – your spine can take a lot of impact
So give your lumbar spine (and the rest of your spine!) some credit, keep active, keep it moving, stretch it out once in a while. Go on, be kind to your spine!
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact on 01273 732740 or visit our website www.brightosteopathy.org for further information on Osteopathy and how it could help you.