Back pain is no joke. Lower back pain can be a chronic, even debilitating condition that prevents you from engaging fully in your work and your life. If you have ever suffered from lower back pain, you're not alone. Studies show that nearly 80% of people worldwide experience back pain at some point in their lifetime. So what can you do to treat and prevent it? Read on to find out.
What are the Causes of Lower Back Pain?
To perform at its best, your body needs proper head to toe alignment. If your body is out of its optimal alignment, your muscles and joints receive increased stress and strain and your body must compensate to restore its proper alignment. This overcompensation can result in numerous issues, including lower back pain.
Your body’s misalignment and the subsequent lower back pain may result from bad habits, such as:
- Poor posture while sitting and/or standing.
- Improper handling of heavy objects.
- Overexertion at work or during exercise.
Other causes include:
- Age-related issues stemming from overexertion, inactivity, or obesity (especially beginning in middle age).
- Occupations that routinely involve heavy lifting or other strenuous activities.
- Gender (men are at a higher risk for lower back pain.)
Should You See Your Doctor About Your Lower Back Pain?
- Did I recently injure my back?
- Have I felt the pain in my lower back for more than a few days?
- Am I unable to work or engage in normal activities outside of work?
While lower back pain may not always lead to more serious conditions, if you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to consult your doctor.
Are There Any Serious Concerns with Lower Back Pain?
An untreated back injury may lead to more serious long-term conditions, like a bulging disc or arthritis. Both of these conditions put undue pressure on the spinal cord, leading to chronic pain and potentially requiring surgery. See your doctor if you injure your back or have lower back pain for more than a few days.
Treatment and Prevention
The key to treating and preventing lower back pain lies in establishing and maintaining proper body alignment and back support.
If you are currently experiencing lower back pain, these methods may help:
- Use supplemental devices, like cushions, to align and support your back.
- Rest your back and apply hot and cold treatments or topical analgesics as needed to relieve the pain.
- Consider physical therapy or other medical treatments, such as chiropractic therapy and acupuncture, to bring your body back into alignment and reduce your pain.
Once your pain has subsided, prevent further lower back problems by:
- Practicing good posture while sitting and standing (keep your neck and back straight and relax your shoulders).
- Maintaining ground alignment with supportive shoes or shoe inserts and avoiding high heel shoes.
- Stretching and toning your back muscles on a regular basis.