LIVING WITH LOWER BACK PAIN
Learning to live with lower back pain, both acute and chronic can be challenging. You will heal, even if you follow none of this advice your lower back pain will heal, particularly if this is the first time you have had a back injury. What you need to be aware of is that, once healed, you have a 70% chance of becoming injured again, and next time it may be worse.
The information shared here is to help get you on your feet faster, and most importantly, prevent this from happening to you again.
First things first, make sure you get a thorough diagnosis and have the care and guidance of a health practitioner. Get a scan or MRI, and then find a team to support you. Nothing can substitute for the care of professionals; self-diagnosis can lead to all sorts of complications so save yourself the trouble and get the right support in helping your back.
This is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach
Yes, you are not going to be working out for a while. Yes, you can hate me, but do so from the comfort of your couch for at least a few days until you can walk, and bend in all directions without pain.
Go see a good chiropractor, acupuncturist, osteopath or massage therapist. Each practitioner knows the lumbar region and knows it well. The key here is to find something that works for you. You should be able to feel the difference after at least three treatments. Often, you may need two different modalities, then just alternate between the two. Initially you may need to have therapy at least once a week, sometimes more. However, if you do not see a shift after a few treatments then you may need to look elsewhere. Time is not your friend and wasting time on a therapy that is not working is worse for you than the money you are wasting.
Cupping. Cupping is a great way to decrease spasm in the lumbar area while increasing the flow of freshly oxygenated blood to the area. Increased blood flow also means waste products from the trauma area getting cleared out. These are good things.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Lastly, it is time to make very certain you’re eating in the most anti-inflammatory manner possible. It is time to ditch the grains and make sure you’re getting your fish oil on a daily basis. Reducing inflammation system wide will allow your body to focus on the acute injury and not spend its healing energies elsewhere!
Walk 20 to 30 minutes every couple of hours, keeping your core (abdominal muscles) flexed, either inside (treadmill) or outside to get/keep the blood flowing and providing oxygen to the disc area.
Once that is completed, do the stretching and therapy exercises while your blood is still flowing. This normally takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
Heat packs are bliss.
Lots of rest and lying down at first, putting legs at a 90 degree angle, back flat against the floor. Thighs up and calves on the seat of a chair, bed, or sofa. It apparently helps re-hydrate the disc. Minimum 10 minutes a day. If laying on the floor is too challenging, you can do this on the bed. Put your feet together and strap around the knees, then release the knees against the strap.
When almost completely recovered, start an intense training program to muscle and tone my belly and lower back muscles.
Managing This Long Term
Lose Weight. If you are overweight, you must lose weight. Every extra kilo adds more pressure to your back, hips, and knees. These all play a part in lower back pain.
Exercise. You want to aim for three types of exercise.
To increase and maintain range and flexibility, exercises such as swimming take the load of the joints and are very safe. If you are experienced, then yoga stretches, tai chi, are just some examples of this. Aim for 30 mins a day, below is a great link. But again, exercise caution if you are a beginner.
Aerobic exercise, to help you shift those stubborn kilos. Water aerobics can be a wonderful substitute if you must manage pain. Walking is great but make sure you have the right shoes. This increases circulation and blood to the area, nourishing the joints.
Strengthening exercises such as resistance bands help to build and strengthen the muscles around the joints. Strengthen your core, but again make sure you do this under the supervision and guidance of professionals, some exercises can exacerbate back pain and you risk injuring yourself again. Reformer Pilates and yoga are great choices.
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate are naturally found in connective tissues in the human body, such as those covering the ends of bones in the joints.
Magnesium can be used to promote an alkaline ph. As a result, significant improvements in health may be noted. Also, when you are injured your muscles tense up to protect that injury, sometimes even after you have healed, magnesium eliminates this and the complications that can arise.
Omega-3 fatty acids are wonderful alternatives to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
probiotics/fermented foods research shows us there is a link between unhealthy gut flora and a weak back. It makes sense because we're all connected.
An important note about supplements. NOT ALL SUPPLEMENTS are created EQUAL. Recent studies showed that some supplements were rancid (mainly omega 3s) or didn’t have the active ingredients listed. I suggest two brands, one is Metagenics, this is a practitioner only brand so you need to ask your naturopath, health care practitioner, or Doctor of Chinese Medicine. I love these, and stock them myself. You can only dispense them with your treatment plan, hence practitioner only. They are pricey, but you get what you pay for, and as they are heavily regulated when tested they came out tops.
The other brand I recommend are Bioceuticals these are just as good as Metagenics, same price range too, the main difference is, you don’t need a practitioner to dispense them to you, you can buy these at good health food shops. These too came up tops during testing, they are exactly what they say they are, you can trust both these brands.
Another alternative I offer my clients is kombucha. If you brew your own then its even cheaper, it has the building blocks for Glucosamine, great for collagen, and probiotics for gut health. You hit two birds with one stone. If you are not up to brewing your own, then you can also purchase from the supermarket or health food shops. Start off slow, you may experience some sloughing off, which means the good gut flora move the bad gut flora out of your gut and you may have the runs. Just slow down for a day and then start again. This is perfectly normal. The other reason I love Kombucha is because it offers so many more different types of healthy gut biome. Our guts have evolved with our fermented foods, so we are designed to take these, not expensive probiotics. I am not sure how effective probiotics are, its a hit and miss game that can be awfully expensive to the client, so I highly recommend fermented foods over expensive supplements.
Acupuncture, Chiropractic Medicine, Osteopathy, and Massage are all beneficial to helping with recovery and managing chronic back pain. The trick is to find the one or combination of a few that works for you.
Another thing to consider, is how you sleep, it plays an important role. Firstly, what is your bed like? Do you have a good quality mattress? How old is your mattress? Does your mattress need replacing?
The same applies to your pillow, memory foam is amazing.
Another important consideration is what position do you sleep in? For lower back pain, you should be sleeping on your back, to release any pressure on your sacrum and lumbar region your knees and feet must be hip width apart, with a pillow beneath your knees. If you still feel uncomfortable with the pillow beneath your knees, then place the pillow beneath your thighs. Keep bringing the pillow up, and it should do the trick. If you must sleep on your side, then sleep on the side least affected, with the pillow between your knees and feet, again keeping them hip width apart. Please refer to the diagram.
The PSOAs muscles are an incredible group of muscles we are learning new things about them all the time. They help connect the upper and lower part of our bodies. The back and front, and there is an emotional connection as they also connect to the diaphragm, as they prepare us for our flight or fight response. They connect our femur to the lumbar region, allowing for hip flexion, and when they are out of balance can contribute to hip and lower back pain. Back when I was studying remedial massage, until not too long ago, they recommended going in 'deep and hard' to release the PSOAs. Can you imagine a therapist going deep into your groin area? It’s not nice, people naturally tense up and try and protect these vulnerable parts of themselves. It’s not something I ever felt comfortable doing. Luckily thought has changed as we now recommend passive releases like the one below. PLEASE NOTE, when performing this passive release, you must keep your knees and feet hip width apart.
The information contained on this website is for general education purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always obtain advice relevant to your particular circumstances from a health professional. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Medical information changes constantly. The information on this website or on the linked websites should not be considered absolutely complete, current or exhaustive, nor should you rely on such information to recommend a course of treatment for you or any other individual. Reliance on any information provided on this website or any linked websites is solely at your own risk.