Low back pain is one of the most common chronic conditions of middle or older age. Most of the time, the pain is steady and does not get worse over time. Due to accident or injury, however, the chronic osteoarthritis or nerve pain can become worsened and require special treatment to get back to baseline.
Here are ways to get better:
- Stay out of bed unless the pain is excruciating.
- Try not to do any activities that aggravate the pain.
- Stop any activity that worsens the pain.
- Avoid forward bending and leaning.
- Avoid twisting the low back.
- Prolonged sitting can make things worse
- Long car rides should be avoided
- Modify activities in order to lessen the pain
Other tricks involve using good posture and using supportive chairs with lumbar rolls if possible. Good posture makes for less strain on the intervertebral discs as well as on the soft tissue around the low back. Try to change your positions frequently; it eases pain and lessens the stiffness of the low back.
Ice packs alternating with heat packs can ease the pain and stiffness. Use ice as long as it seems to ease the pain and tension. Try adding heat after 2-3 days for treatment of stiffness. Use either heat or ice for about twenty minutes.
Go back to your regular activity as soon as it is possible. Use shorter durations at first and lengthen the duration as you begin to feel better. If things hurt on a given day, think back on what you did the previous day and expect that what you did was a bit too much.
When you sleep, think about your mattress. If it is too hard or too soft, you may aggravate a low back condition. When in doubt, sleep in a different position, such as on your side with a soft pillow tucked between your knees. Others get better by sleeping on their back with a pillow tucked beneath the knees.
Avoid heavy backpacks or shoulder bags. These may make back pain worse. They should make up only about ten percent of your body weight. Backpacks are generally better for you than shoulder bags because they distribute the weight better across your back and shoulders.
Footwear is important. Your shoes should have cushioned soles for shock absorption. This will minimize jarring forces to the low back. Don’t wear high heels as these can cause back arching.
Consider reducing your stress levels by doing breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, guided imagery and meditation. The power of the mind is important in relaxing the muscle tension and in pain relief.
If the pain is severe or has not gotten better after 1-2 weeks, see the doctor. The doctor may get into certain diagnostic tests to decide if there is disc injury or nerve root injury.
When Symptoms are noted below the Spine
If the symptoms involve numbness, pain in the buttocks or tingling, there may be more than just a stiff back going on. These symptoms may come and go or may be steady. Many times these symptoms represent a more severe problem, such as a nerve injury. It can mean a longer recovery or a surgical treatment.