According to the American Chiropractic Association, more than 31 million Americans suffer from lower back pain. It’s a common reason people miss work and it truly impacts people’s lives. Men and women suffer from lower back pain equally and about 80 percent of adults will have lower back pain sometime in their life.
Many things can cause lower back pain, including the following:
Muscle or Ligament Strain or Sprain
Overuse or an injury to the back can cause pain. Turning wrong, picking something up incorrectly, and many other injuries can hurt the spine. The pain can come on suddenly or get worse over time.
Strains happen when a muscle stretches too far and tears. Sprains are when the tearing impacts ligaments which connect the bones.
The symptoms are the same for both and can include a dull ache or increased pain when moving. Pain that is hot or tingling is often a nerve, not a muscle. If the pain is reduced when resting and is worse when moving again, it could be a muscle or ligament sprain or strain.
Injury to Discs
The weight of your upper body puts strain on your lower back. That pressure can cause pain. Small bones called vertebrae have cushions of cartilage between them called discs. Sometimes these discs can suffer an injury or they just wear away over time. This is called a herniated, slipped, or ruptured disc.
Once the cartilage goes away, there can be pain. If the herniated disc puts pressure on the nerve that is near the spinal column, it’s called sciatica and it causes pain to radiate down the buttocks and the leg. Many people say it feels like burning pins or needles.
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord. It puts pressure on the nerves, causing pain. As the discs between the vertebrae degenerate, they compress the nerve roots or the spinal cord itself. Bony spurs can cause the spinal column to narrow causing numbness, cramping, and weakness.
Degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, and other spinal issues can also cause lower back pain. Sometimes, skeletal irregularities like scoliosis do not cause pain until a patient gets older.
Treating Lower Back Pain
Most pain in the lower back is acute, meaning it will go away after a short period of time. Sometimes, it resolves itself on its own with rest, over-the-counter medications, and other types of self-care. Since it is often mechanical, once the damage is fixed, the pain goes away.
Chronic back pain can last several months even after treating the initial cause of the pain. There are many non-surgical options for treating chronic lower back pain including chiropractic care. The medical professionals at B3 Medical can help. Contact us today for a consultation and let us help you relieve your pain without surgery.
Most people will have back pain sometime in their lives. Almost anything can cause a back injury. Lifting things by bending your legs and keeping your back straight can help prevent an injury, but not everyone remembers that advice all the time.
Bracing the lower back can help by stabilizing and protecting the back. Keep in mind that braces can’t cure your back problems, but they can help reduce pain and promote healing.
When to Use a Back Brace
As with any type of pain, if it is so bad you can’t move without feeling severe pain, see a doctor. The same goes if mild or moderate pain does not go away after a few days.
If the pain is moderate, bracing it as soon as the pain begins can help give enough support to keep you moving. Staying immobile is bad for the back.
Don’t use a brace for more than a few days unless specifically directed by your medical professional. If you use it more, the back muscles can get used to the brace and could lose strength.
Medical professionals often recommend back braces for people with chronic or acute back pain. A custom fit back brace is a very smart idea if you have had a spinal procedure or a spinal surgery, no matter how minimal the surgery. These braces are custom fit to you with added support based on your specific injury. This brace should be used for support immediately following the procedure especially if anesthesia is utilized.
Because of the possibility of friction between the skin and the brace, you might want to wear a shirt under the brace.
Types of Back Braces
There are several types of back braces; soft corset, semi-rigid, and custom molded. All have the goal of limiting the back’s range of motion, but the custom ones are the most restrictive, then the semi-rigid, followed by the soft corset.
There are also braces designed specifically for certain purposes like industrial work and athletic activities.
The prices and materials of the different kinds of braces vary. Some are available in drugstores, others only come after a prescription from a doctor.
No matter which type you buy, make sure the brace fits you and the natural curvature of your spine. It should be in contact with all areas of your back and fit snug, but not too tight. It should be comfortable and feel supportive.
Look for a brace that seems durable and is easy to clean. Materials like nylon, polyester, and rubber are simple to clean.
Some braces have removable inserts for additional support. The adjustability also varies, so look for that. Also, check for padding that might make the brace feel a bit more comfortable.
How Do Back Braces Work?
The types of braces from the drugstore limit the movement in the spine and can relieve the pressure on some parts of the back. They can help improve posture and reduce the load on the lower back and can help make movements like transitioning from sitting to standing more comfortable.
Straps help to tighten the brace around the body, compressing the core muscles and stabilizing the area around the spine. Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) can counter the forces on the spine, allowing the stabilization.
The medical professionals at B3 Medical can discuss the use of back braces with you. They study the source of your pain and help you get your life back. Contact the office today to schedule a complimentary pain evaluation.
Experts estimate that about 80% of the U.S. population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. While seeing a doctor is the best way to find out the cause of your back pain, there are some things you can do at home to help manage the pain.
Ice First, Heat Later
If you injure yourself or have persistent pain after an activity, ice is a good option. Ice is best for the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury because it reduces inflammation and slows down nerve impulses. Be sure to only ice for 20 minutes at a time.
Warmth might help relieve some of the pain, but it does not help the inflammation. In fact, direct heat can make the inflammation worse, which may lead to an increase in pain. After the inflammation goes down, heat can stimulate blood flow to the injured area to start the healing process.
Indirect heat like warm Epsom Salt baths can also help sore backs. The magnesium sulfate in the salts can make its way through the skin to the muscles to help relieve pain. Just make sure the water is between 92 and 100 degrees.
Rubs, Gels, Creams, Ointments, and Patches
There are many types of topical medications for back pain. Some ingredients to look for include:
- Ketoprofen (Diractin)
- Ibuprofen (Nurofen or Dolgit)
- Diclofenac (Voltaren)
- Lidocaine (Lidoderm)
- Brazilian arnica
Some products contain capsaicin, the heat-producing substance in hot peppers. When rubbed on the skin, the capsaicin can help stop nerves from transmitting pain signals to the brain, thus reducing the pain.
When using these products, you should test them in a small area first to make sure the cream isn’t going to irritate your skin. Oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are also a good over-the-counter option for back pain, but should not be taken long term without talking to a doctor first.
Concentrate on Posture and Movement
The spine is designed to move, so make sure you’re not sitting still for too long. For those who sit at desks all day long, it’s important to get up throughout the day and stretch out your muscles. Otherwise, they’ll become stiff, and if you suffer from back pain, that could only make it worse.
When you are sitting, make sure your posture is good. If it isn’t, this could be a contributing factor to your back pain. A good chair can help with your posture by keeping your spine aligned.
Our bodies need sleep to rejuvenate and restore itself. Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach since this puts pressure on the spine. If you choose to sleep on your back or side, use a pillow between or under your knees to keep the spine aligned.
During the day, try not to stay in bed for long periods of time. It’s better to keep moving so your muscles don’t stiffen up. If your back pain wakes you up a night, lasts longer than six weeks, gets worse, or comes with weakness, tingling, or numbness in the arms or legs, it’s time to see a doctor.
The professionals at Tampa’s B3 Medical can help diagnose the source of your back pain and help you find relief. Make an appointment today.