When dealing with low back pain, it is either going to be acute, which means a new onset of pain, and is usually quite painful as it usually involves a mechanism of injury such as a lifting injury or a car accident. There is also chronic pain, which means it has been going on for some time and the pain can vary between severe and mild, again the mechanism of injury will help dictate this, for example, is it an old disc injury from a previous trauma? or more of a repetitive stress issue such as leading a sedentary lifestyle, which has broken us down over time?
If we are dealing with an onset of acute pain, the initial goal is to reduce inflammation and stabilize the low back, then we must work to restore range of motion into the joint and tissue. And finally, stabilize and strengthen the lower back. For example, if you have suffered a lower back injury through a lifting injury try applying ice to the area for twenty minutes every hour for the next several hours. Offer the low back some support by changing your seating or laying position. If you are seated, sit in a reclined position with support under your legs and lower back, this creates the least amount of stress to the lower back. If you are laying, try and place a pillow under your legs and/or between your legs to keep your low back in an aligned and neutral position. Once the severity of the pain has subsided the next goal should be to get the low back joints moving and stable again.
If we are dealing with more chronic lower back pain, which is a result of a repetitive stress issue, such as sitting for a living we must first address our work environment. Start with HR performing an ergonomic assessment of your work station, this will allow you the opportunity to be in good posture when sitting at work, which is key to a healthy low back. If HR is unable to perform that assessment, head on over to our website and download our PDF guide of how to manage pain at home and at work as this covers sound sitting ergonomics. If we do sit for a living, which the average American does 9 or more hours of a day, then we must break up that repetitive stress by trying to stand and move at work. If you already have a stand-up desk, then again ask HR to perform an assessment to make sure you are doing so correctly, once you are in an assessed position of good posture, try and stand for the last twenty minutes of the hour, every hour. Make sure that you work into this however by starting at five minutes and then incrementally work towards twenty minutes. If HR is unable to perform the assessment, then again this is covered on our website in the downloadable PDF.
Our next goal is to try and restore range of motion to the lower back joints and tissue. A good way to start is by working on the soft tissue in the lower back, both for acute pain and especially for chronic pain. If we have suffered a lower back trauma and our pain is a new issue for us, the body is designed to try and immobilize the joint by putting the tissue into spasm. By addressing this through soft tissue work, such a spending time on a foam roller it will essentially act as a trigger point massage, and work on breaking down the spasm, which will allow the lower back to work back to its full range of motion. Before we can do this, however, we have to follow the first part of this blog, which is to reduce the inflammation and pain, which will allow us to perform this exercise. If we try and do this too early on in the process, it will cause more pain and more than likely aggravate the issue and make your pain feel worse. Only attempt this when you are back functioning without restriction and not in severe pain.
If we have been dealing with lower back pain for several weeks or longer, this is also something we should try, and try a lot of. If your lower back pain is a result of a repetitive stress injury, like sitting at your desk for 40 hours a week for the past decade, then the tissue in the lower back would have broken down through the stress of sitting and a collagenous tissue called adhesion would have formed within the joints and tissue of your lower back. This acts like chewing gum in a muscle, essentially it is weak and inflexible and is a major cause of lower back pain. By addressing this through soft tissue therapy, such as foam rolling it can assist in restoring health to the tissue, which will allow the tissue to regain range of motion.
Once the actual tissue has been addressed, for both acute and chronic lower back pain then a good stretch routine should be performed. The stretching should be a combination of static and dynamic stretching aimed at improving the resting length of the tissue (static stretching) and improved joint mobility (dynamic stretching). If you do not have an athletic background and are unaware of a good stretch routine a reputable chiropractor will be more than capable off assisting you with this. If you feel you have a basic understanding of your body and would like to try this at home, head on over to our website www.southloopchiropractor.com and download our PDF from the website as this has a great stretch routine that you can start immediately at home or at work.
Lastly, once we have addressed all of the above, we can start stabilizing and strengthening the lower back. This is essential for a full recovery and should be done regardless if our pain is a newer problem or a long-standing one. The first area we should address is our pelvic floor, also known as our core, as this provides stability to our pelvis and lower back. A weak core is usually a culprit when dealing with lower back pain, either acute or chronic. We are built to move, especially on a biomechanical level, so when we do not move through sitting for a living the core becomes redundant and weak, this leads to the muscles in our lower back having to work too hard and compensate, which over time breaks them down, causing weakness and further problems down the road. Exercises including abdominal breathing, and core work should be done to activate the core and stabilize the lower back. Once out of pain, this should be done periodically throughout your workweek to maintain the functionality of this muscle group.
If you have been suffering with lower back pain and have tried all of what we have covered in this blog and still continue to experience lower back pain then I encourage you to come in and see us at Advanced Health Chiropractic. Procrastination is the thief of health, and the longer we leave a problem the worse it gets, ultimately leading to more time, energy and money in fixing the issue. At Advanced Health Chiropractic we focus on treating the root cause of the issue. Through our state-of-the-art diagnosis tools and treatment methods, we can pinpoint the joint, soft tissue or nerve that is causing the problem and go about, effectively without drug or surgical intervention objectively correcting the issue, offering fast, effective and long-lasting results. Our team will walk you through a goal-orientated consultation, provide you with a clear definitive diagnosis and create a plan of action that will have a clear beginning middle and end for you to achieve all your health and wellness goals. We look forward to meeting you and getting you back to living pain-free and without restriction.