I was picking up a box at work today, and I went SNAP! I couldn’t a moment later, I couldn’t continue with the same repeating process, I had to finally put an end to it. It was time to make this my mission to never feel the same pain again.
Many people worldwide deal with the uncertainty that lower back pain brings to them. Each particular person varying in different amount on a pain scale. Your pain could vary from 1-10, but can feel from 1-100 with no congruent conclusion to make from it.
Did you know that 80% of people worldwide will experience a lower back pain at least once in their lives? That’s not what’s scary as this is… Over $50 billion(yes, 50,000,000,000) dollars are spent annually on treating a back pain related injury, and that does include minor aches!
In this article I will be talking to you about how you can take care of your back pain by understanding how to treat a lower back pain you are having.I will present to you the following:
- What is lower back pain, and how many citizens like yourself deal with it each and every day
- The Causes of a lower back pain within different age groups
- How to deal with all types of lower back pain
I’m breaking down everything from spine issues down to your muscles and joints that affect it. ALSO, If at any point you want a more structured list and a general overview of the 3 stages of pain, acute, sub-acute, chronic and sciatica, you should see my super advanced ways to get rid of any lower back pain article here.
How Can You Define Lower Back Pain? Is It Pain, A Disorder, Or A Mental illness?
The answer to understand lower back pain is far and wide. Many people theorize their own interpretation before they actually know the actual meaning. Here are some of those interpretations:
- I don’t have a bruise, therefore there is no pain
- I can use my back muscles, so I am fine
- I am hurting all the time, I must be mentally in-capable of dealing with this
Don’t be fooled. This is not even close to true. I’ll find it…
Lower back pain is not an illness, nor is it a disorder, rather it is a “discomfort”. The discomfort comes from the lower region of your spine known as the Lumbar Spine. At this part of your spine is where it supports all of your upper body weight. Your Lumbar Spine is a magnificent “mechanically engineered” structure.
It provides so many functions such as bones, joints, nerves, ligaments, and muscles that all work together in conjunction to make you work the way you do. It is this reason that is so suspect-able to injury too.
It can be tough at times to identify with your lower back pain…you can get lost with all the amount of causes and symptoms that rise up. If you’d like a brief education and general overview, you can always reference my education page right here.
How Did You Cause Your Injury, And Will Your Age Matter?
We’re indestructible and built like a machine right? Not exactly, and don’t machines wear and tear down from use too?
When it comes to understanding what the cause of lower back pain is, it can get a bit more complex than you might come to think. It’s more than just saying “yep there it is, that’s where my pain is coming from.” There is a time when you will find trouble figuring what the real cause of your lower back pain, and face the reality in the face:
It didn’t happen at the exact moment, but it happened over time.
Oh GEE, what do I mean? What this means is that your pain come from awkward use of your lower back muscles over time, so when you finally get the pain you so painfully feel, you just simply couldn’t understand it. You end up asking yourself, how?…
“I didn’t do a darn thing!”
Here is an example you need to carefully look at.
Ex: You prepared to go the work the same way you do every day.
STEP 1: You get out of bed, and get dressed
STEP 2: You head to the kitchen to make a plate of your favorite nice morning breakfast
STEP 3: 5 minutes after, you”re out the door
STEP 4: Into the car you zoom in, and out work you go
STEP 5: Now, you’re sitting sunk into your desk chair for a couple hours at a time
STEP 6: You got up and felt an ache on your lower back. You go on to ask, but how? I didn’t do A thing!
Answer from me: EXACTLY! It commonly doesn’t take one scenario or circumstance to lead you into the full wrath of pain all the time, BUT it takes wear and tear on your body over time. Take a look at how an example like the one we just went through can do to your lower spine.
In the picture above is my spine after a week of sitting in my vehicle for 40 minutes getting to work, and adding an 8 hour work day at sitting in front of my desk. My spine went into a posterior alignment(curving my spine towards my belly), and causing my:
- upper back to hunch forward
- my pelvis to shift forward in an anterior pelvic tilt
These two causes are enough to turn what is a small acute lower back pain into a chronic pain. And that will be explained in a bit.
What’s the most common cause?:
Most commonly, the number one reason for any type of back pain, whether that be acute, sub acute, chronic or sciatica nerve pain are:
- soft tissue injuries-inflammation
- and mechanical issues
As a result of a sedimentary lifestyle, the pressure on your lower spine packs too much stress tension on your vertebrae, and its disc. Here are the common disk injuries you can get:
Let’s look at one at a time.
- A Degenerative Disk. A disk is located between all 30 vertebrae starting from your cervical spine, to the thoracic spine, and downto your lumbar spine. At the bottom portion these spongy pieces pf cartilage which you call a disk will act as shock absorbents for the vertebrae. With stress, and especially age the disks will wear out and shrink. There is fluid inside the disk, and as you get older the water will go away, and it causes you to lose flexibility.
So… less flexibility = more stress
Put A Time Frame On It:
A degenerative disc can begin:
- as early in your 20’s
- is especially common to happen in your 30’s
- Later on, when you get to your 60’s it will be less common to start at this time.
A re-occurring sport injury or an on going strain and muscle pull are the largest reasons for a degenerative disc so early on in your life. And as we age, our disc lose the fluid inside and around the disc, therefore they tend to shrink.
The great men vs women debacle race:
Does one “sex” group actually get it more than the other? You might think one does,but this surprisingly does not hold true! Both men and women are equally likely to get it at any age and any time. According to NCBI, they say so, and explain further on.
2. Herniated Disk. There will be times when your disk will hit a LARGE bump in the road..sort of speak. Like a tire can get flat from hitting a bump and cause a tire or two to pop, so can your disk. The center of the disk will open up and bulge out causing the fluid or the outer layer of the disk to push on your nerves, carrying messages to your brain. This can cause pain to radiate to your buttocks, and down your leg.
Which age group and gender is affected most?:
- More commonly in age groups over 50. Why?
As you age there are two things I know can happen:
- Disks lost all its water, causing a loss in height, and shape
- Elasticity of the outer ring of the disk losses it shapes and begins to weaken and stretch
There are more causes to a lower back pain than just these two though, and they are:
- Spondylolisthesis. The Vertebrae slide on top of each other. Happens because the joints and ligaments are not supported properly in position.
- Vertebral Fractures. Weak, and ready to break bones.
- Spinal Stenosis. Narrowing of your spine.
- Scoliosis. Abnormal curve of your spine.
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Scheuermann’s disease
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Excessive weight
Other than your disc and chronic conditions like arthritis pain, there are more reasons that you can take for granted. Have you thought that for once it was not anything related to your spinal disc or spine injury directly?
Look below your waist and what do you see? I can tell you over 5.
- pelvis. If your pelvis is pushed in or back, it can cause an increased load on your spine, and that’s why you are feeling pain.
- hips. Sacroiliac joint pain can cause the nerves in your hips to feel worse than they really are
- buttocks. Your coccyx/tailbone can be damaged, or you have weak gluteal muscles that don’t support your spine.
- hamstrings. Weak muscles in your hamstring cause one side of your body to weaken more than the other.
All these are causes you shouldn’t rule out.
You Have Acute Pain, So Don’t Hit The Panic Button
There are a numerous amount of ways to treat acute lower back pain, so many in fact you can get lost where to:
Luckily you don’t need to be like how I was anymore. I HONESTLY know what works very well from start to finish without jumping the gaps. Whether your pain is the result of a strain or just slow and on going inflammation, I have your back!
I’m about to get into the meat of things here, and address the finer details. I’ll to show you how you can treat lower back pain when at this exact stage step-by-step. So don’t turn the page just yet.
For all my acute lower back pain patients out there, come closer, i have something to tell you – STRAP IN, and take a look at this common scenario:
You’re fresh off the block- you NEVER had a lower back pain in your life. First of a big congratulations on going so long without it. Having your first ache is the one we take for granted. This was my mindset at first:
“Oh well, I will live with it”.
PUMP, PUMP, Not so fast! Where’s your mindset at? You have an outlook that doesn’t look promising an uncertain with this focus. With this head on your shoulders, you’re likely to force yourself into an injury. You’ll continue to:
- work yourself out the same way you did before
- eat the same ways
- and go back to the same habits
This is where you need to have a hard look at yourself and ask yourself why you had pain in the first place. Was it from a way you were sitting? a twist, turn or pull? The way you lifted weights during your workout?
Break every situation down before you go into your day to day activities. To help you do so, you should check out my prevention article by clicking here.
Why Treat Acute Lower Back Pain As Soon As Possible?:
The primary reason you don’t want to avoid care of your acute pain is because it can cause further damage to your:
- muscle imbalance
- cause chronic inflammation.
- eating habits
- mental habits
Your injury acclimates differently from the next person with similar acute lower back pain. You can be on any pain scale from a 1-10, so its vital that you understand your starting treatment sooner rather than later.
Seeing your doctor or back pain specialist would be really beneficial under traumatic circumstances like these:
- A vehicle accident
- large fall from a height
- minor fall in a younger patient with osteoporosis
- bowel movements
- urinary retention
- history of cancer
Do you see the pattern?:
You could be put more at risk with a previous ongoing condition if you’re not careful. Pause what you are doing from your day to day activities, and seek medical attention before seeing beyond this point. Depending on the severity of your injury, you might need to attend to your pain differently.
Your in pain how do you treat it?:
In many cases that I’ve experienced and know too well about, at any age, the best way to start is with “Cold and Hot Therapy.”
A blow to your lumbar spine may have caused a ligament, a tendon, a joint, a muscle strain or a muscle sprain that needs your immediate attention. Here’s how you should continue from start to finish…
Start: First, You will want to put a local application of ice to the injured area. The ice will reduce inflammation.
Time: 15-20 minutes, every hour, for the next 48 hours. Generally, if you had a traumatic injury, you’ll be told to ice for a better time of 72 hours. Do this instead
Middle: Continue performing your day to day activities, except at a smaller rate. This will allow the nutrients to flow to the injured are, and keeps your blood in good flow. The result is it shortens the inflammation, and muscular tension reduces. The best is yet to come.
End: Heat therapy.
Time elapsed: 20 minutes.
There is a method that I like to use, called Contrasting Therapy. It is an extremely stimulating process, more used to facilitate an injury recovery. This causes your tissues to adjust to quick changes. It can help accelerate a process if you have strains a or sprains. It provides a couple of reliefs:
- No Stress
- strong sensations in movements
You can alternate between cold and hot therapy in one day without having to wait the first 24-72 hours to apply cold therapy.
Who’s it best for?:
This is the type of therapy that will work for anyone, but it’s used more by athletes than anyone.
Follow this 8 step procedure:
- 2 minutes of heating
- 1 minute of cooling
- 2 minutes of heating
- 1 minute of cooling
- 2 minutes of heating
- 1 minute of cooling
- 2 minutes of heating
- 1 minute of cooling
Grab yourself a bucket, a tub, a sink, you can use wrapping such as heating pads, or a soaked towel.
What else can you do?:
Ever heard of REFERRED Pain?
In many cases, pain doesn’t come from where your injury occurred. Sometimes one place in your body will cause pain in another, such as your lower back. A nerve sends signals running down triggering pain receptors in a different area non-related to your incident.
What I recommend you do:
STEP 1: Follow normal acute Lower back pain procedure which is proceed with your daily activities
STEP 2: Get at least 2 day’s of rest in between
STEP 3: Stretch and exercise, if you can otherwise you should follow the next step
STEP 4: Ice and hot therapy
I have a few articles based on all these steps that I highly advise you take a look at. To see each one take a look at the following links:
It’s sometimes hard to diagnose exactly where your pain originates, but when you feel like your hips and butt muscles are sore, you can go as far as getting a massage. According to Livestrong, getting a massage is the best way to release muscle tension and stress for your lower back.
Here’s how it can look for you:
- Massage therapist. A massage therapist will be able to find the places in your glutes to unlock your pain
- Sometimes your hips are tight, and you can’t unlock your glutes because your hips are locked in place
- The pifimoris muscle along with your glute becomes so stiff it causes pain to your lower back. Not only that but your hamstrings tighten up.
- Your balance becomes poor as a result
One for all the athletes:
If you are an athlete you will need to do stretching and lower back strengthening workouts. By doing this you will be able to further prevent another sore back in the future.
The Worker in you:
What if work has something to do with your pain? Here are a few factors to consider:
- Think “Physiological factors”
- Physical pressures
Stress related issues at work can cause you to naturally get a muscle strain, and or spasms much faster than someone who is outworking their body from a workout.
feeling pressured, or things like not likening your job can cause you to do your job differently, and as stress builds up in your mind, your physical body will start to operate in different forms.
What you can do:
This is tricky, and it still is for me till this day. There’s really not a perfect formula, as it depends on a multitude of factors when you are at work like:
- your environment
- are you sitting or standing
If you find that you sit a lot, one of the things I do that helps is stretch by doing a quadratus lumbordum stretch. This is where I twist my body in my chair and get a nice rib cage stretch. This will add more mobility. Check out how to do it here at work.
I never like to recommend anti-inflammatory drugs but there are cases where you just need to use them period. In younger adults you can take Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs) otherwise known as pain relievers, or Use Acetaminophen. These medicines will work just fine:
- Ibuprofen- Advil, Motrin
Talk to your doctor for the right prescript-ed amount, and always read the label for the active ingredients.
Options for Exercising:
It’s obvious that you need to make a lifestyle change if you want to stop getting the same ache and pains time after time. You should take a look at our prevention page for more information, but I’ll explain a couple things:
Best Option: At this point you will want to look into stretching, and strengthening. Beginning this too soon can worsen your pain though. Seek out a physical therapist to begin with if need be(but not required this early into back pain). They will assess where your pain is coming from and what type of stretches and movements will work the best for you.
Option # 2: When you decide to stop seeking a PT, I recommend looking into Yoga. Your pain by this point might be close to gone, or is. In either case, yoga will help strengthen your back muscles, and give you a great sigh of relief…literally! Your breathing will get better and your mind will get way stronger.
This works well if you have constant back pain flares that are acute and tough to keep away because your mobility is tight. Yoga will train your mind to deal and get over the pain that keeps re-occurring.
Doing less of what you do is another must:
Stay away from lifting heavy objects. Get help from a co-worker to shift the weight, and proceed with caution. Remember to avoid twisting and bending, slow as well as fast.
For help with lifting at work, you can temporarily use a back brace if you need to. Check out our back brace article right here.
Sub-Acute Pain, At The Middle Of The Road
You might have taken a slippery ride down the acute back pain road, and found yourself at the mercy of something greater: Sub-acute lower back pain that is. This stage is common among people who didn’t either treat their injury properly or didn’t make the effort at all to adjust their lifestyle. This pain will last between 4 to 12 weeks. And a medical evaluation should be considered first before you continue forward.
The tendencies to do anything and limit your are greater…
In the Sub acute stage, it has the effect to limit you from participating in the following:
The damage to your tissue has become greater now, causing slightly more pain throughout your day. You should take immediate action that are of the following:
- Reduce anxiety. Practice slow breathing.
- Improve function, Be mobile If you can’t walk, you should try stretching.
- Develop coping strategy. Get educated about your pain, by understanding how to move around your pain.
- Avoid bed rest. Stay away even for minutes.
- Stay Active. Be on your feet.
What you can take:
You can take NSAID drugs if necessary. They are commonly the first line of therapy and it is common to react to this form of treatment for a more severe low back acute pain. Some you can take are:
Another problem with sub acute pain is that your muscles ramp up to another level. You will constantly feel like your muscles are hurting and weakening your lower back. Take a look at your natural muscle relaxers by going here.
Here is something I don’t recommend, Opioids. They do little benefit, You can be more at harm with a larger dose of use too.
Proceed with a physical therapist if need be. They will well asses what type of movements you need to take to work around your pain, not through it.
Chronic Pain At Last? Or it Shouldn’t last?
How do you go about treating a lower back pain that might not go away? It is a hard fact to face but one you can kick butt at. At 12 weeks and greater, pain will persists causing chronic lower back pain. 20 percent of people with acute lower back pain get to this point. The other 80%unfortunately begin with it, from a large blow to the the lumbar spine and its surrounding components.
Before I continue, if you want to see what your best chronic lower back pain treatments are, check out this chronic back pain article.
#1 Strengthening exercises. Get into strengthening your break right away. You will want to do this because your pain is radiating to a higher pain scale. You’re looking at anywhere between level 7-10. Strengthening is the speediest recovery.
What’s happening inside your back: Your muscles are weak from all the wear and tear it took from an injury or from a previous stage such as acute pain. This is all too important for people will skeletal irregularities, such as:
- Degenerative disk disease
- Herniated disk
- Spinal stenosis
You’ll notice with Chronic pain that it will take you more effort to find relief. Once again, the healing process is different from one person to the next, but one step is common among everyone…
Talking to your doctor. Once all your doctors options have been exhausted, its time to seek a back pain specialist. I want to make that last sentence very clear, for a primary reason.
I know that most time chronic lower back pain is hard to deal with, and than there are time when you feel great, like you just drank a boost of energy to get your blood going. People seek out the worst with chronic pain. They feel a need to get surgery, or turn to injections. It can make the pain worse!
Do the following instead:
- Physical therapy. Get started with PT
- Diet. Get on a healthy diet, let your back muscles rest from the constant pressure of your abdomen.
- Be mindful, meditate. Chronic back pain is more mental. Straining you physically and emotionally. Defeat your emotions, and focus on yoga, Tai Chai, or also cognitive thinking
- Take more natural herbs and essential oils. Natural medicine is the best thing you can do right now, and herbs and essential oils area a natural resource you should not hesitate to give a look. See my article about essential oils here.
- Change your lifestyle. You have limitations, and so you should adapt to them accordingly. Examples of this can look like this:
Ex 1: Take more constant breaks
Scenario: Teaching a class?
Solutions: Take time away to walk around, and keep your spine up.
Ex 2: Make more trips to grab the groceries
Ex 3: Give up smoking
Ex 4: Substituting the couch for a walk
Increasing blood circulation:
One of the most important aspects of chronic lower back pain is that it reduces the amount of blood from getting to your area of pain. This is not a good sign because it can cause your pain to worsen and cause large muscle stiffness. So my recommendation is to continue heating. This is even more crucial when the weather gets colder because your muscles can get tighter and stiffer. Make sure you reference my article for the cold weather on that here.
For A Degenerative Disc:
Living with a degenerative disc doesn’t end with a permanent disability. You can control it and defeat it at an early stage. The first two weeks are important in recovering, and you should go full throttle with it. The focus and attention I had to get was the following:
- stabilizing my spine. When you have a degenerative disc, as much as you need to exercise and stretch, you should focus on your posture. you need to re-align your spine so that you’re not hunching over and causing long term pain. See here for better posture recommendations.
- minimize my pain
- improving and maintaining my mobility with yoga. See here fore the yoga that best fits you.
Degenerative Disc Actions:
You’ll want to follow the same steps I did and have learned with my studies. You have options, but you should follow a careful step-by-step guided process that can look like this:
- Over-the-counter pain medication. Ibuprofen- Advil, Naproxen. Even Aleve will do the trick. Take these as anti-inflammatory control.
- They will control your discomfort, stiffness, and your nerve root irritation.
- Next, you’ll want Acetaminophen-Tylenol, which will block the nerve signals going to your brain.
- Opioids are a common use, and usually #1, and if you want to learn more about it, you can seeour opioids page for more here.
- Heat first, Ice second. The key is to relax your muscles with heat. You don’t have inflammation but you want your muscles to be ready for any event, like a physical activity. This will minimize your inflammation at the end of your day.
- An alternative to medicine is chiropractic care. Practitioners apply pressure to your back with their hands, looking to manipulate your pressure points.
- Massage therapy. Reduces muscle spasms and tension. The spine gets a quick fix, with no pressure. Nutrients can now pass by and supply oxygen to your muscles. See here for a special type of massage know as myofascial
- Epidural injections. Steroid injection.Its purpose is to reduce the pain signals and inflammation.
- Improve Your Posture. A degenerative disc can cause your back to stay stationed in an awkward and un-balanced position. When you work on your posture, you decrease your pain while staying away from nerve damage.
What I experienced from a herniated disc is that it healed in 2 weeks. It takes normally up to six weeks from what my doctor told me. This can vary in nature and per person. You don’t have to go surgical, go conventional.
- Apply ice. Control occurring muscle spasms if you have any. It is common to happen. Get that ice out and ready, or have an ice gel pack sitting cold in your freezer. Apply it for 20 minutes, every hour for the next 48 hours.
- NSAIDs. Use Ibuprofen or Naproxen. Ask your doctor for the prescribed quantity.
- Might need a muscle relaxant. Herniated disc cause muscle spasms, and unlike in a degenerative disk you will find this of better use here. Some are: Carisoprodol, Dantrolene, Chlorzoxazone. For more natural alternatives check this article out.
- Heat therapy now. The 48 hours have elapsed. Since then you might have taken pain medications. Apply heat wraps, a hot compressor, a bath, heating pads. All will do just fine. Apply for 20 minutes. You can repeat it every day if you continue having a spasm.
- Contrasting therapy. Good for an athlete trying to get back into shape. (Please see above in the “How Did You Cause An Injury, And Will Your Age Matter?” section for more information on how to do this)
- Limit your rest. 2 days maximum
- PT. Physical therapy will be an option. You should learn how to strengthen your back. Its the best way to get back into posture and action. You’ll get the basics of lifting weight and walking.
- Epidural injections. Help block the nerves if you need feel your nerves inching way too much.
- Work on your posture. A herniated disc can cause it to affect your spinal nerve that runs from your neck down to the top of your knee cap. Everytime you bend over, you will cause really painful pain. So your posture is really important.
I Advise to get less invasive, like Epidural injections. Try other options to begin with. I really emphasize yoga, and for good reason. It is the best stimulant. You get to release endorphins, and its the best way to get you back into activities, and improving diets, and in return you get a better lifestyle.
Sciatica Doesn’t Put A Wall In Front Of You
When you find that you have sciatica nerve pain, this can be overwhelming at first, and far more than the other levels of pain. For acute Sciatica you should do the following:
- Heat and Ice. Alleviate your leg pain with heating and icing in that order.
Time elapsed: 20 minutes. Repeat for two hours.
How to apply: A towel or cloth will work fine. Many people prefer heat packs or water jets because it applies the right amounts of pressure to their area.
2. Pain medication if needed. NSAIDs. Ibuprofen or Naproxen will do.
3. Exercise. You want to reduce your inflammation. Walking and stretching is the best form.
4. Yoga. It relaxes your mind, and strengthens your body.
5. Bed rest. 3 days of rest should work just fine.
6. Use topical creams. Creams don’t let the nerves release pain.
7. Acupuncture. Opens up the pathways of energy in your body
Doing It Right – Treat Your Lower Back Pain With Resilience
I felt the same way you did when I had a back, and when I get flares still, I make it a point to find the best way to treat my lower back. Many people give themselves a large burden by spending massive amounts of dollars to find the treatment they need, and “think” they need. Annually, it just hurts my head, 50 billion, I had to hold myself back from writing the zeros. This highlights one thing very true.
People are unaware, and not educated about how to treat their lower back pain. It starts at the cause. Understand where your pain came from. Ask yourself the 6 Q’s: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?
Work backwards to find the root of the cause, and work to improve from there. This way you will be more prepared the next time around. Each person has a different type of pain. It could either be acute, sub-acute, chronic, or Sciatic.
Your treatment depends on your pain scale from a 1-10, and so follows your type of treatment. The small the pain(acute), the less time you need to spend strengthening, and focus on Cold and Hot Therapy followed by the other factors. For Sub-acute we discussed that you should continue with the acute stage but implement more strengthening to your muscles.
At Chronic pain, it can be more of a mind game. Focus on strengthening your back, working on a good diet, and getting the right support for your back in and out the house. Sciatica is its own category. Focus on relieving stress with meditation, and more rest means more topicals, and more.
Older adults in 50 and above may find it more difficult to continue with regular exercise and may need to fall dependent on drugs. If so, than use it moderately in smaller dosages to lessen the event of an organ damage.
If you have any questions for me, please feel free to shoot me a comment, question, or offer your thoughts down below. You could have advice, or a story you’d like to share too. I will get back to you right away!
The Remove Back Pain System
The next segment needs to highlight the importance of why I like helping you and many others. Other than learning how to treat a back pain, and in my “getting rid” of supplemental article, It’s important that I expose you to the natural ways.