Lower back pain can be bothersome, and it can stand in the way of your work and personal life.
But the hard truth is that lower back pain is commonly experienced by the middle-aged. In fact, data from Harvard Special Health Report Men’s Health: Fifty and Forward shares that about four in five Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives.
A majority of people who suffer from chronic pain end up asking themselves: What should I do for lower back pain? After all, chronic back pain can be tough to manage, especially if you don’t know the cause. So let’s take a closer look at the possible culprit behind it.
What Causes Back Pain?
Age is one of the most common causes of back pain. As you get older, your bones and joints are more prone to wear and tear. For example, your discs — the structure that cushions the bones in your spine — can become fragmented. Changes in the structure of these discs can cause lower back pain.
Sometimes, the culprit could be a herniated disc. This happens when the disc pushes out of the space between your bones and compresses a nerve, which could cause lower back pain.
In most cases, however, back pain can be traced to a sprain, strain, an accident, or simple overuse. If the pain you feel isn’t too severe, you can try a few home remedies to reduce flare-ups and make the pain more manageable.
How to Relieve Lower Back Pain
If you’ve asked yourself “how to get rid of lower back pain,” we’ve listed a few tips to help ease the pain until your back returns to normal.
Proper exercise is the foundation of back pain treatment. Regular physical activity can help build strong, flexible muscles that are less prone to injury. On top of that, exercise helps loosen tense muscles and release endorphins, which are your body’s natural painkillers.
Consider starting a daily exercise program. Some types of exercise you can do include stretching, yoga, water exercises, and strength training to help keep your muscles strong and flexible.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
Sometimes, the shoes we wear can contribute to back pain. If they don’t fit properly or offer little support, they could strain the muscles in your back, legs, and neck.
Wearing high heels, for example, could put your body out of alignment and cause lower back pain. Shoes that are too flat, on the other hand, could also add unnecessary stress on your feet and back. Consider switching out your footwear for something that correctly supports your feet so you feel comfortable whenever you move around.
Stress can trigger muscle tension and painful spasms, which could explain the pain you feel in your back. Consider trying these stress-relief techniques:
- Mindfulness meditation – Embracing mindfulness can ground you in the moment and prevent you from focusing on the pain.
- Deep breathing exercises – Take a few deep breaths, in and out. This can help calm your body’s stress response.
- Guided affective imagery – Try to relax by focusing on specific mental images that elicit a calm response. This type of method also works while playing peaceful music.
- Progressive muscle relaxation – Give some of your muscles a light workout by tensing and relaxing different muscles in your body in turn. Lie down on your back, and start with your feet then work your way up to your shoulders.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
A balanced diet makes it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight could strain your lower back, adding to your discomfort. If you want to avoid lower back pain, maintain a diet high in nutrients that promote bone growth and strength.
Here are some must-have nutrients that your diet should have:
- Calcium – Increase your intake of dairy products rich in calcium such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Veggies like kale, collard greens, broccoli, and bok choy are also packed with calcium.
- Phosphorus – Dairy foods are rich in phosphorus, but other healthy foods to add to your diet are chicken, seafood, nuts, and whole grains.
- Vitamin D. Foods high in vitamin D include eggs, fortified milk, salmon, swordfish, and cod liver oil.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Lack of sleep could make you prone to back pain, and sleep disturbances could make the pain even worse.
Keep in mind that proper comfort and alignment of your back can help you avoid back pain in the morning. So make sure that your pillow and mattress offer enough support to keep your back and neck in a straight line. If you sleep on your side, place an extra pillow between your legs to reduce stress on your lower back.
Apply Pain-Relief Cream
If you’re seeking back pain relief, you may apply pain-relief cream to the affected area. This type of ointment can be bought in pharmacies or online. Pain-relief cream that contains capsaicin, a compound found in hot peppers, is effective in reducing back pain discomfort. It can also help if you’re experiencing pain caused by osteoarthritis.
Creams that contain menthol, on the other hand, can desensitize pain receptors in your body. Just make sure to apply menthol-based cream sparingly because too much menthol could make you more sensitive to pain.
Improve Your Workspace
If you have a desk-based job, maybe it’s time for you to rethink your workstation. Reassess your space and make it ergonomic to prevent future cases of back pain. Consider improving these areas in your workspace:
- Chair – Your chair should be positioned at a height that lets your feet fully rest on the floor and your knees level with your hips. If your chair fails to provide proper back support, you may add a lumbar pillow to reduce your lower back strain.
- Computer monitor – If your monitor is too high or too low, it could affect your posture and make you more prone to experiencing back pain. For good measure, keep your laptop or monitor an arm’s length away from your chair. Make sure the top part of your monitor is positioned below eye level.
- Keep objects within reach – If the items you frequently use when working are beyond your arm’s reach, you may end up straining your lower back. So keep the things you use like your phone, pens, and notebook close by. Meanwhile, you may place larger objects in an area that’ll encourage you to stand up instead of twisting from your seat.
Even if you have an ergonomic workstation, make sure you also take breaks and stand up and walk around to relieve muscle tension.
Conduct Cold & Heat Therapy
If your back pain is the result of an injury, you may resort to cold and heat therapy. In the first 24-48 hours following a back injury, you can apply a cold compress to your back. Using an ice pack for 15-20 minutes at a time can help alleviate the pain by numbing the area and reducing swelling.
After 48 hours from the onset of back pain, however, using a heat pack for about 20 minutes at a time would be more helpful for your injury. The warmth can help relax and soothe your muscles to increase blood flow. In turn, this can speed up the healing process.
See a Chiropractor
Perhaps at some point, you’ve asked yourself: can a chiropractor help with lower back pain? The short answer is yes. Unlike other types of treatment, chiropractic care takes a holistic approach to treating back pain.
But more specifically, what does a chiropractor do for lower back pain?
Chiropractors are health care professionals who focus on the treatment of neuromuscular disorders through spinal manipulation. These chiropractic adjustments can help improve functionality, restore range of motion, and reduce lower back pain. This alternative type of treatment also works best when used with proper exercise and relaxation techniques.
Partner with LifeClinic for Your Recovery
Keep your body functioning at its best. Partner with LifeClinic on your journey to recovery and restore your range of motion and reduce pain. We offer chiropractic and rehabilitation services that will restore, maintain, and optimize human function. Find a LifeClinic location near you today.