Living with pain, injury, or any form of physical discomfort can greatly interfere with your quality of life. It can affect your mood, mobility, sleeping patterns, memory and concentration, and even your relationships. Pain also tends to promote dependence on prescription medications, making you more susceptible to anxiety and depression.
Data from the Cleveland Clinic shows that in the U.S., back pain is the second most common reason people visit their doctors. Lower back pain, in particular, ranges from dull aches to sharp, persistent pain felt below the waist. It can be caused by muscle sprains or sudden movements, but it could also result from a condition such as a ruptured or herniated disc. Conditions often related to lower back pain include scoliosis, stenosis, lower crossed syndrome, and degenerative disc disease.
Sciatica is a common condition associated with lower back pain. It refers to nerve pain from irritation or injury to the sciatic nerve, the longest and thickest nerve in your body. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body. It’s the type of pain that radiates along the path of your sciatic nerve, which branches from the lower back through the hips, buttocks, and down each leg. According to Harvard Health Publishing, about 40% of Americans experience sciatica sometime during their life.
Managing lower back pain and sciatica is not as easy as it seems, especially if you don’t know their root causes. Let’s take a closer look at the possible culprits behind your low back and nerve discomfort.
What Causes Lower Back Pain and Sciatica?
One of the most common causes of back pain is age. People of all ages can experience lower back pain at some point in their lives, but this condition is most common among middle-aged individuals. In fact, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke states that the first attack of low back pain generally occurs between the ages of 30 and 50, and it becomes more common with advancing age.
As you grow older, your bones and joints become fragile, and your discs which cushion your spine begin to lose fluid and flexibility. Changes in the structure of your discs can result in lower back pain. In some cases, your disc can slip out of the space between your bones and compress a nerve, giving you a herniated disc or worse, sciatica. This occurs when the pain from your slipped disc travels through your sciatic nerve.
In most cases, however, the most common culprits for your low back pain are simple overuse, sprain, strain, excessive lifting, unaccustomed activity, accidents, or a poor sleeping position. If the pain you feel is somehow bearable, the best move is to wait and see if the pain subsides on its own. If there’s no improvement and it begins to affect your daily activities, then it’s time to see a doctor.
Keep in mind that severe cases of low back pain can’t always be fixed by sleeping it off or changing your lifestyle. However, there are various remedies you can take to help ease the pain until your back returns to normal.
How to Relieve Lower Back Pain & Sciatica
Don’t let any physical discomfort stand in the way of your work and personal life. Here are some tips on how to get rid of lower back pain and sciatica:
Fix Your Sleeping Position
Sleep is essential to your health and wellbeing, and your sleeping position plays a huge role in your sleep quality. If you’re struggling with lower back pain or sciatica, you might need to modify your sleeping position so you can manage your pain. More than getting eight hours of sleep, ensuring a comfortable position and proper back alignment is crucial for sleep quality.
Lying on your back is the most ideal sleeping position for maintaining the natural curve of your spine. Make sure to use a pillow and mattress that offer enough support to keep your neck and back in a straight line. Adopting a curled-up fetal sleeping position is recommended for people with a herniated disc and sciatica. This helps open up your joints and bring relief during the night. If you like sleeping on your side, place an extra pillow between your legs to avoid straining your lower back.
Wear Comfortable Footwear
Sometimes, back pain is linked to sore feet and uncomfortable shoes, which contribute to straining the muscles in your back, legs, and neck. If your shoes are too high, it might put your body out of alignment and cause lower back pain. If they’re too flat, you may experience sore feet and back.
Consider wearing footwear that fits you comfortably and provides enough support whenever you move around. Doing so can make a huge difference in managing your lower back pain and sciatica.
Engage in Physical Activity
Exercise promotes better sleep, even if you’re struggling with lower back pain. Engaging in regular physical activities is vital to keeping your back healthy and less prone to injury. When your muscles are relaxed, they tend to release endorphins, which are your brain’s natural painkillers. This helps facilitate the healing process for your lower back pain and sciatica.
If you’re not a fitness buff, you can try practicing yoga to stretch and strengthen your back, and potentially stop or ease your pain. Over the years, yoga has become an extremely popular form of physical exercise and mental relaxation for many people around the world. Whether you are young or old, fit, or out of shape, yoga can be a great way to slow your mind down and restore a sense of balance.
Maintain a Balanced Diet
It’s true what they say that you are what you eat. Everything you consume becomes a part of your inner being as well as your physique. So the healthier the food that you eat, the better you will look and feel about yourself.
Processed food, especially those with refined sugars and high in trans fats are highly inflammatory and can contribute to back pain. A balanced diet is the key to maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the pressure on your lower back. Your diet should contain nutrients high in calcium, phosphorus, and Vitamin D, which promote bone growth and strength.
Apply Pain-Relief Rub
Trying to sleep with lower back pain and sciatica can be really tough, but applying a pain-relief rub on your lower back might help. This type of cream can easily be purchased online or in pharmacies near you. Its key ingredient is a component found in chili peppers called capsaicin, which is effective in reducing back pain discomfort.
Optimize Your Workspace
Working from home or in the office can make you vulnerable to chronic pain and fatigue, especially without an ergonomic workstation. According to the American Chiropractic Association, 50% of all working Americans experience back pain symptoms each year. Consider optimizing your workstation to ease or prevent lower back pain and sciatica. You can start by investing in quality furniture and arranging them in an ergonomic way to reduce lower back strain.
More than having an ergonomic workspace, it’s important to take breaks by standing once in a while and walking around to relieve muscle tension. Standing and walking go hand-in-hand as a basic form of exercise that can help release endorphins to better manage your pain.
Apply Hot and Cold Remedies
If your lower back pain or sciatica resulted from an injury, you can try applying hot and cold remedies to ease your discomfort. Cold remedies include the use of ice packs or cold compress, which can reduce swelling and help alleviate the pain by numbing your lower back. This method is recommended in the first 24-48 hours following a back injury.
Hot remedies include the use of heating pads of a hot-water bottle on your back after 48 hours from the onset of back pain. The warmth can help soothe and relax your aching muscles by increasing blood flow and speeding up the healing process of your back injury. Make sure to apply both remedies with caution to avoid burning your skin with ice or heat.
Get Chiropractic Care
Perhaps at some point, you’ve asked yourself: what does a chiropractor do for lower back pain?
Chiropractors are health care professionals who perform adjustments and exercises that can help treat a wide variety of conditions, including lower back pain.
But how can a chiropractor help with lower back pain? As rehabilitation experts, chiropractors focus on the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions through spinal manipulation. They perform chiropractic adjustments and services that can help improve physical function, restore range of motion, and reduce lower back pain.
Instead of relying on pain-relieving drugs, getting chiropractic care is a great alternative to relieving lower back pain and sciatica. It takes a holistic approach to treat back pain and works best when combined with proper exercise and relaxation techniques.
Partner with LifeClinic for Your Recovery
Put an end to your lower back pain and sciatica by partnering with LifeClinic for your recovery. We offer chiropractic and rehabilitation services that will restore, maintain, and optimize human function. Start your journey to a pain-free life and book an appointment with LifeClinic today.