So you have woken up with back pain and you have probably also searched online to see what the best solution is for it. Some of the advice may have recommended for you to be active and keep moving. Following this if you have gone for a walk you quickly realise that your back pain is still there or even getting worse.
So what should you do? Do you keep walking and have the mindset of “no pain no gain”? Or do you take rest to stop the pain getting further worse?
There are a number of things that can cause low back pain. Until you find the source of the problem it’s difficult to provide specific advice for your current symptoms.
However in most cases if your pain is being aggravated, even by advice you have read from seemingly reputable sources online (or anywhere else) you must stop that activity. That pain is your body’s way of telling you that this is a crisis situation and that it must be addressed and resolved properly.
You must avoid anything that is aggravating your lower back pain, even if it is walking or moving. So get into a position that makes the lower back pain more comfortable. This allows the body to start healing those tissues, rather than further injuring and aggravating that problem.
There are so many benefits to our health, lifestyles and well-being.
Of course make sure you get permission from those who want to give a hug.
Hugging reduces cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone, and if found in large quantities for long periods of time in the body, can be quite destructive.
Most people tend to be living stressful lives, so have high amounts of cortisol in their body. A hug from a loved one for a few minutes can help balance the cortisol to normal levels.
Linked to that, studies have found hugging can reduce high blood pressure.
Another benefit is reducing anxiety. I have seen a trend in members of our local community with ever increasing levels of anxiety. A hypothesis for one of the causes is that nowadays there is more of a taboo with physical touch, and we are losing our sense of touch with one another.
See who you can go and give a loving warm hug too, and let me know in the comments.
If you’re finding yourself to be describing your symptoms as “constant low back pain”, that it is always there, then let’s check and see what the cause of it really is.
A lot of the time when we have pain or discomfort we often get confused and our bodies, brains and nervous systems get scrambled, and end up misunderstanding the signals they are receiving. They often get into a much more worried state as this is the worst thing that is happening to the body at this moment, and it can often misinterpret it for being constant, even if it may not be.
So consider what activities or movements affect your constant low back pain, that aggravate it and relieves it. Start making a list of what makes it worse and what makes it feel better. This will be really helpful to present to your health professional when you seek to have your constant low back pain resolved.
If you are suffering with constant low back pain, which is truly constant, meaning it will not even allow you to sleep – this is quite rare, for a pain to be so constant that it does not even allow you to sleep. Often in these cases, people are only able to sleep by taking heavy medication, which of course has other health implications too.
The other problem with constant low back pain affecting sleep is because it affects the quality of sleep, it means that the healing phases of sleep are never achieved. The healing phases of sleep are when the body is able to regenerate itself and recover from any tissue damage.
If you are suffering with constant low back pain my first (ironic) advice is to stop looking online for tips & tricks. If it really is that severe you must seek out professional health immediately. There is no need to waste any time and risk your condition becoming permanent if not handled correctly.
Causes of constant low back pain may include a fracture, a break in the bone. If this is the case, then you definitely what to get it checked without delay, because if it is an unstable fracture you can cause some serious damage and injury to the tissues and blood vessels around that area.
If you have been compressing a spinal disc for a number of years due to extreme lifestyle choices of spending long working hours sitting which can cause the spinal discs to pop, burst or bulge. This can lead to the disc pressing on spinal nerves. Combined with that you may have muscle spasm which is trying to protect the area from further damage. However the muscle spasm itself can often be so severe that it causes pain itself.
Please avoid asking loved ones who are not professionally qualified for what they found helped if they have suffered with constant low back pain. It’s just as easy to seek professional help to get the best treatment for your condition.
There’s a few things you can do. Before we get into what we can do to help your low back pain, we need to think about what your low back pain is.
See if we think about the definition of “low back pain” it’s a pain, a symptom and it is subjective – meaning that everyone experiences low back pain in different ways, and the meaning each person gives their pain is different too.
That makes it much more complex than simply saying “ah, this is the one thing to fix your low back pain.”
First of all we need to find out exactly what the cause of the low back pain is. In order to do that you need to go to an expert because unless you know what to look for, what to examine for, what to test for, it’s very difficult to determine what the cause of the pain is. There’s many different structures within the body that can cause the low back pain.
Low back pain may be caused by your organs, it could be some bones or joints, some ligaments that have been strained, torn muscles, bulging discs, pinched nerves and a whole host of other things in that area.
So the first step to determine which of these things are causing your low back pain you must first get a consultation. A diagnosis based on just an extremely thorough consultation alone is likely to be very accurate. When you then add tests and an examination to a consultation the accuracy of the diagnosis improves significantly more.
Once you know what that diagnosis is, it’s easy. You simply flip it, reverse what has happened, and that makes your treatment plan to resolve the cause of the low back pain.
It’s not just about getting rid of the pain, but to restore normal and optimised function to help prevent conditions coming back in the future.
The way to think about how to achieve relief for lower back pain is to think about a building that is on fire.
See if a building is on fire, the way you know about it is the smoke alarm is going off. The smoke or fire alarm is just like the pain that you experience in your body letting you know there is a serious problem here.
Painkillers act like taking the batteries out of the smoke alarm. You would never take the batteries out of a fire alarm to stop it beeping if the building was on fire.
We know that what you really need to do is find the source of the fire, stop that making things worse, whilst still reducing the flames burning the rest of the building.
So with your health you want to make sure you avoid anything that aggravates your lower back pain, such as any activities, movements or postures.
What we need to consider is why has that problem occurred and why has it occurred NOW? This is an extremely important question I ask myself when working with a patient to help me determine the source of the problem.
If you are unfortunate enough to be suffering with some sort of lower back pain and it just so happens to be at a time with it’s rather difficult to get hold of a health professional, such as on the weekend, during a national holiday, or when abroad in a remote area.
There are a few things you can do in the interim until you are able to get to a health professional. Remember this is not a fix, but just a simple way to potentially help you through the uncomfortable period.
Even if it starts to feel better it’s still worth taking the time to seek professional advice to be fully sure.
The first thing you must do is avoid anything that aggravates the pain. Although some general advice says to keep active, if that particular activity is aggravating your symptoms then stop – this is NOT a no pain, no gain scenario (quite the opposite)
Calm The Fire
Most of the time a lot of pain is due to inflammation. That means it’s hot and red, so we need to cool it with ice. Of course make sure you wrap the ice in a thin towel otherwise you may end up with frost bite on top of all the other problems you already have going on.
WIth an area that is inflamed, it’s “flame-atory” meaning it’s hot, so applying heat can potentially add more fuel to the fire.
If it was just muscle tightness then it may be suitable to apply heat – however the real question then becomes “Why is that muscle tight?”
So if you’re unsure go for the ice. The other advantage is your nerves don’t work very well at low temperatures anyway, so this can help give some comfort and relief by dulling the pain.
What is the best solution to get rid of your lower back pain?
Well let’s think about this logically. See a lot of people nowadays are talking about back pain as if it were a disease or condition in itself. Often they claim to have a cure for lower back pain.
Back pain, or any pain for that matter, is not a condition, it’s a symptom of the condition. So by removing or reducing the symptom does not mean you have removed the cause.
The way to remove the cause is to create a healthy environment in which health can thrive. Optimal healing allows the body to heal itself.
There are a number of things in the body that could cause lower back pain. The most common is the musculoskeletal system (i.e. the muscles, joints, nerves, ligaments and tendons).
Organs can also cause pain in the area.
One of the first things that a professional chiropractor or osteopath will do is conduct a detailed case history. This helps find out the story of how the patient got to this point. It also gives some detailed information about the nature of the symptoms, which all add up to providing valuable clues into why these symptoms have started.
If suitable,then the patient may require some special clinical tests to determine what specific parts of the body are causing the symptoms (notice how we’re still only talking about symptoms, not the condition yet).
It’s also extremely important to consider WHY those tissues have been affected in that way. It may be that there are some lifestyle choices that patients have made, which has gradually led them to this point.
That is the only way you can naturally create optimal function in the body, allowing it to heal itself and achieving true health. This is my definition of health: “The body’s ability to heal”.
The better the body can heal, the better it can be in it’s optimal function.
If you are suffering with lower back pain when bending there are a number of different structures that we need to be looking at, addressing and potentially be concerned about too.
When we look at a typical spine, it is made up of bones called vertebrae. In the lower back (lumbar spine) there are a total of 5 vertebrae.
The bumps on the back are called spinous processes. These are what you can see or feel when you run you hand down the back. Near these spinous processes are the joints which allow the vertebrae to articulate with each other. These joints are called facets.
In between the vertebrae are the spinal discs. We want these to be nice and spongy to allow for efficient shock absorption from any movements of activity.
When bending the lower back, these discs can get more compressed, which can cause them to bulge if there is already a problem there. This bulge can potentially pinch the nerves as they are exiting the spine.
Pain can also be caused by the stretching of the capsule around the facets if bending forwards. These facet joints can get inflamed, and if they get inflamed to the point where they start pinching on nerves they can also add to pain.
Softer structures in the area such as ligaments and muscles can get stretched when bending. If they are tight due to an injury or poor posture the pain may be an indication of requiring some guided lifestyle changes.
So as you can see there is not an easy fix such as performing a stretch or sitting a certain way to “cure back pain”. As I always say, pain is a symptom indicating that there is a problem. It’s the cause that needs to be addressed to remove it.