Disorders Causing Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain, also known as lumbago, can be very debilitating on a daily basis. There are many causes of lower back pain, which is just a symptom of these other causes. Fortunately, there are several non-medical solutions to relieve and treat the pain and its causes.
Arthritis and herniated discs can be common causes of low back pain. There are some people who were unfortunately born with spinal abnormalities that can also contribute to this. Nonetheless, there are some corrective options even for these patients. Lower back pain can be a problem that comes more frequently with aging, after an illness, or via strain, overuse, or injuries. Compression fractures are an example of the latter.1 Degenerative discs, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, and scoliosis are other disorders linked to lower back pain. Even smoking can lead to increased back aches.2 Pregnancy is yet another factor contributing to pain in the lower back.
These conditions of which back pain is a symptom have treatment options. There are also preventative measures that the patient might try.
Ergonomics and Lower Back Pain
Failing to make corrections to consistently poor posture, wearing unsupportive shoes, repetitive stress from even regular tasks, and sitting incorrectly could all be factors that contribute to back pain. Pain in the lumbar region (lower back) is the “most common work-related back problem”. Muscle and ligament injuries could also cause lower back discomfort. People who twist, bend, pull, lift, or push incorrectly can develop more pain. Many types of laborious jobs performed without proper care taken will end up injuring the working patient in both the short term and with increasing aggravation in the long run. The biggest risk factors are motions that include “force, repetition…harmful posture (and vibration)”.3
If a person stands correctly, the shape of the spine will curve like an “S”, with the “ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles” aligned. When seated, the hips should be “equal to or slightly higher than (the) knees”. Side sleeping with bent knees, or back sleeping, are much more supportive for the back than stomach sleeping. Stomach sleeping, which also often causes the head to turn and the neck to twist into one position for hours, could cause further harm to the spine.
Besides poor posture, physical condition contributes to low back pain. Being overweight is a major factor: “every pound up front puts 10 pounds of strain on (the) back”. Stress and poor diet, as well as infrequent exercise, can also contribute to back strain. Repetitive trauma is harmful to the muscles and ligaments, as well.4
Treatment and Prevention
Pain management does not necessarily have to come in a pill bottle. All pills, from acetaminophen to NSAIDs to narcotics have side effects, and some medications can be addictive and dangerous. Lots of medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, are not all sustainable solutions in the long term. That’s because the chances of many side effects and risks will increase over time, damaging the body. They could also lose their effectiveness, leading the patient to try increased doses and becoming dependent on medication when there are opportunities for safer solutions. This is why many people may wish to opt for alternative ways to cope with back pain.
Rest, Stretching and Exercises
Rest, stretching, and exercises can be very helpful for both preventing and treating lower back pain. Having strong core muscles can stave off a lot of problems. Devices can also be useful, such as using an exercise ball, both for stretching and sitting, or changing to an ergonomic office chair. Some offices may wish to redesign workstations for the benefit of the employees’ health. Other companies may implement changes such as team lifting and job rotation.5 Mechanical aids and a good lifting technique can help many people avoid the injuries that cause lower back pain.6 Orthotics may also be suggested to patients with lower back pain. Cheap shoes, and even expensive shoes with poor internal support, are a large factor that consistently contributes to improperly holding the body.
Massage Care and Chiropractic
Finally, massage care and chiropractic treatments are beneficial for many patients, especially those who have suffered from back pain for an extended period of time, and require more than just lifestyle corrections to relieve the effects of their physical ailment. Chiropractors can, along with adjustments and other treatments, provide education to patients on lower back exercises and lower back stretches. These may include lower back rotation, double leg pull, hip lift, partial curl-ups, back press and release, arm and leg reaches, calf and hamstring stretches, side stretch, neck and shoulder exercises, and leg pulls and raises. These exercises should be performed at home, in between visits to the chiropractor. This is to help the patient maintain the benefits of the aid which the chiropractor or other alternative care practitioner provided to them.7
3, 5 http://www.afscme.org/news/publications/workplace-health-and-safety/safe-jobs-now-a-guide-to-health-and-safety-in-the-workplace/chapter-7-ergonomics-preventing-strains-sprains-and-back-injuries/injuries-caused-by-poor-ergonomics
4, 6 http://ergonomics.ucla.edu/homepage/back-safety/back-pain.html