Do you suffer from lower back pain? If your sore lower back impacts your lifestyle, or your ability to get through the day, you can take heart in knowing that you are not alone. Lower back pain is a very common problem that affects 80% of the population at some point of time. The symptoms of the problem can vary from a dull ache to shooting pains or spasms in the lower back muscles, or the same pains in the middle or upper back.
But there is good news for most sufferers: a sore lower back is usually temporary, and the pain goes away after a while. With the right pain management techniques, you can start to feel better in a matter of a few days.
We get you started on the road to recovery with a primer on common causes of back pain, how you can relieve your back pain, and what you can do to prevent a lower back injury:
What puts the pain in back pain?
Some of the most common causes of back pain are:
- Lifting heavy objects incorrectly
- Overstretching the back during lifting, bending or twisting
- Bad posture
- Wrong sleeping position or a sagging mattress
- Lack of exercise
With increased risk factors of back pain being:
- Being overweight
The incidence of back pain goes up as you age – lower back pain is more common among people between the ages of 30 and 50 years.
But it is not merely age-related: you can also get back pain if you are not active during the day, or if you remain seated at your desk for long periods of time. On the other hand, overdoing it in the gym can also give you back pain. Preventing and managing pain is all about striking the right balance.
Tips to help manage back pain
Try the following tips to reduce the risk of lower back injury:
- Lift heavy objects correctly. Bend your legs at the knees and use your legs to lift the weight, not your back
- Don’t slouch when you sit or stand
- Maintain good posture at all times
- Exercise as often as possible and keep a check on your weight
- Quit smoking
- Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes
- Sleep on your side so that your spine is not curved and pressured uncomfortably. Take care to sleep on a firm mattress that provides adequate back support
How to Get Rid of Back Pain?
The first signs of back pain, and you are tempted to climb into bed and stay there. But how you manage the pain in the first couple of days to relieve your sore back will help speed your recovery:
- Self-care:Apply an ice pack on your backfor 20 minutes every 1 to 2 hours, making sure that you fold the ice inside flannel so that it does not directly touch the skin. Avoid applying a heat pack for the first few days, and do not massage it either. The painful and inflamed tissues need time to relax and return to their original state. About three days later, you can apply Moov ointment or spray to your stiff, aching muscles.
- Stay active:Avoid going to the gym and certainly do not lift weight, but do keep yourself moving. Gentle movement and regular stretching can help a great deal. You can do some exercises to relieve your lower back pain so that healing is helped along. A physiotherapist can show you the right back stretches and strengthening exercises to aid recovery.
- Keep moving:Avoid staying still in one position for too long (e.g. sitting at your computer for a long stretch, or watching TV lying down for hours) for longer than 20 to 30 minutes at a time. The sooner you can move normally again, the better your back will feel.
- Control the pain:A simple pain reliever can minimise and dull the pain so that you can stay active. The pain reliever may also help tamp down on inflammation, and offer succour for mild to moderate lower back pain. If you are over 65 years old and taking medication for other health problems, it is better to ask your doctor about taking a pain reliever.
- Be positive:Your painful back can make you miserable, but it does not need to control you. Practice deep breathing or meditation to help you cope with the irritability and stress that your painful back will invariably bring.
It is best to consult your doctor if your back pain does not reduce even after a few days, or if you develop other accompanying symptoms (such as fever, difficulty passing urine, numbness, weakness, or pins and needles in your legs, etc.).