Lower back pain is so common it is almost like a right of passage. Knowing that it is incredibly common, most adults learn to simply work through it or ignore it. Neither of these is a good way of dealing with something your body is telling you is a problem. Pain is always indicative of something else, though in the vast majority of cases it isn’t life threatening. Simple changes in your life can alleviate (if not eliminate) many of the problems. From exercises to being more aware of your posture, it does mean making a few changes. And it is always worth it.
It will take some time for you to change certain habits to help your lower back. After all, it took a lot of years to put enough strain on your lower back for it to start hurting. The fix is not going to happen overnight. Fortunately, you have options to start alleviating the pain without a lot of medication or surgery.
What Is Lower Back Pain? According to Statistics …
Lower back pain can include pain elsewhere in the body if you ignore it. However, all cases of lower back pain include pin the lower part of your back, typically around the bottom of the rib cage to the bottom of your spine. Children can suffer from this problem, but adults are nearly guaranteed to experience at least a short period of lower back pain in their lives. Adults have not only gotten far more years of use out of their backs, any genetic disorders and degenerative diseases will either start to become obvious or will finally manifest.
More telling are the statistics on lower back pain. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, an estimated 80% of all adults will suffer at least once from this common ailment. For employers, it is both the cause of the most days missed at work and job-related disability. It affects both genders equally, and even people in otherwise perfect health can suffer from it.
Signs of Lower Back Pain and What They Could Mean
Lower back problems are not quite as straightforward as you might expect. There are things that you do everyday that can contribute to problems as an adult, as well as injuries that you sustained in your youth or early adulthood. It is important to pay attention as soon as your lower back starts to hurt because it does not take much to exacerbate the pain.
Once you start experiencing pain in your lower back, it can trigger other problems. Some lower back problems are symptoms of something more serious. Being able to identify the symptoms of common back problems, and when it is a sign of something worse will help you be able to take the right corrective action.
As a general rule, if you are suffering from lower back pains and other issues, it is best to play it safe and see a doctor. However, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible if lower back pains are accompanied by the following other health issues.
- Loss of control of either your bowels or bladder
- Weakness in your legs, particularly if your legs continue to get weaker
- Groin numbness
Combines with lower back pain, these are potential indicators that there is something more serious causing the pain. You should also seek a medical professional if you cannot find a comfortable sleeping position, resulting in loss of sleep, or if the pain becomes increasingly more intense.
The short answer is that there are many things that we do every day that can adversely affect our backs. You are probably already aware that lifting something heavy the wrong way can cause your back to hurt later. However, it isn’t just large things. There are plenty of adults who tweak their backs by simply bending over the wrong way to pick up a piece of paper off of the floor. It’s even possible to hurt your lower back by doing something as mundane as putting on pants.
The lengthier answer is that we use our backs for virtually everything we do, even when we aren’t thinking about it.
Strain is easily the most common cause of lower back pain. In addition to pain you may feel small twitch of pain or muscle spasms. While it is the little things that really add up over time, there are other problem that contribute to back pain:
- Problems with disks (bulging or ruptured discs can cause minor pain, or the pain could be more acute depending on the severity of the stress)
- Sciatica from a herniated disk that usually causes severe pain in the back and legs
- Arthritis and osteoporosis
- Abnormal spinal curvature
- Kidney infections or other problems can feel like lower back problems in the early stages
Options to Treat Lower Back Problems
While medication and surgery are options, the best way to manage back pain is to change little things that you do every day. When you sit at a desk for two or three hours at a time, a lot of stress is being place on the lower back. This can be mitigated with good posture and standing up to stretch your back several times over the course of the work day.
If you aren’t suffering from other symptoms, then there are a few things you can do to start reducing the pain and helping your back recover.
- Rest your back by either being less active (if your back pain stems from being active) or by moving a stretching (if you spend a lot of time sitting)
- Apply heat or an ice compress to the pain to reduce any inflammation.
- Exercise can be a great way to strengthen your stomach muscles so that your back doesn’t have to do so much work. Core exercise, such as yoga, are particularly effective at promoting a healthy back.
- Use over-the counter pain medication for minor pain. These types of medicine can reduce the swelling in addition to relieving pain. Make sure you do not over use them because you don’t want to mask the pain so that you can continue to do things that will hurt your back.
- Alternative medicines can be sought, but you will need to do your research before beginning.
- Visit a chiropractor to have the problem checked. Sometimes your back just needs to be realigned to reducer or remove the problem.
Finding the right solution is different for every individual because there are so many root causes. Your situation needs to be considered when trying to resolve lower back pain.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Having earned his Bachelor of Science at the University of Nevada, and his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College, Dr. Brent Wells found his professional passion fairly early in his career. Instead of simply treating his patients, Dr. Wells strives to help everyone to understand how a few basic changes in habit result in better health. This passion was realized when he founded the Better Health Chiropractic in Wasilla, Alaska.
Personal experience has given him as much (if not more insight) into what it is like to deal with other healthcare professionals. Aiming for a more personal approach, his care comes from compassion and a desire to provide the best care. Instead of treating just the problem, he’s goal is to offer patients a better quality of life.
Back Pain. Retrieved March 16, 2019 from Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School: https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/back-pain.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke,Low Back Pain Fact Sheet(December 2014). Retrieved March 17, 2019 from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet.
Symptom Checker: Low back pain. Retrieved March 17, 2019 from Mayo Clinic – Symptoms: https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptom-checker/low-back-pain-adult/related-factors/itt-20009075.
Back Pain. Retrieved March 18, 2019 from UW Medicine; Orthopedics and Sports Medicine: http://www.orthop.washington.edu/patient-care/articles/arthritis/back-pain.html.
Nordqvist, C.: What is causing this pain in my back?(February 23, 2017) Retrieved March 18, 2019 from Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/172943.php.
Morrison, M.: Lower Back Pain Treatment Options(March 12, 2019). Retrieved on March 18, 2019 from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/lower-back-pain-treatment-options.
Mercola.:How to Treat Back Pain without Dangerous Drugs. Retrieved on March 18, 2019 from Mercola: https://www.mercola.com/back-pain.aspx.