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Hempe® - Guide to Lower Back Pain

What causes lower back pain?

There are many possible reasons for lower back pain and it is always a pain that we should take seriously as it can affect the quality of our lives drastically.

Common types of lower back pain are often caused by injury or an illness, such as arthritis, muscle strain, or stress. But it may also be due to a problem with bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves, spinal joints, organs, facet joints, spinal discs or blood vessels.

The lumbar spine is made up of four vertebrae. These vertebrae protect the spinal cord and nerves from injury. If one of these vertebrae becomes damaged, it can lead to lower back pain. Often when this type of pain occurs, there is damage or injury to one or more discs or vertebrae in your spine. Discs are cushions between vertebrae (bones) that help stabilise your spinal column.

Lower back pain affects about 80 percent of people at least once during their life times. It happens when something goes wrong with one or many parts of the spine. It may be caused by injury to muscles, ligaments, bones, soft tissues, sciatic nerves, or internal organs. Many conditions and diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, spinal stenosis, sciatica, ankylosing spondylitis and infections may also cause lower back pain.

In a nutshell, lower back pain occurs when there is some type of injury to the lumbar spine or lumbar region. Some people might experience this by pushing too hard in the gym, or by constant bending over in gardening but for others, it could be caused by a condition like rheumatoid arthritis or sciatica.

In addition to these - stress, poor upper body posture, lack of exercise or physical activity, pregnancy, obesity, smoking and alcohol use are the main additional factors that can contribute to lower back pain.

Who does lower back pain affect?

Lower back pain is very common, affecting about 80 percent of people at some point in their lives. 

Although lower back pain can affect everyone regardless of age, it does usually get worse when we age. This is because older adults tend to experience chronic conditions such as types of arthritis etc which can often increase the risk for spinal injury.

More frequently now, lower back pain is affecting young adults. This is because of our more sedentary lifestyles. It is affecting, disproportionally, men who work at desk jobs. The pain can be caused from sitting too long and doing repetitive tasks which tends to have an effect on sleeping poorly for a proportion of men. Sleeping badly also exacerbates the problem.

If you're suffering from back pain, obviously you will want to try and find out what causes it so you can avoid future injuries. When not caused by injury or illness, it can unfortunately be hard to get to the bottom of.

In many cases, however, it will go away on its own within a few weeks without treatment.

What treatments are best with lower back pain?

Low back pain is one of the most common reasons for visits to a physical therapist. The physical therapist will subject you to a physical exam and see what types of movements make the pain worse.

There is a really wide spectrum of responses in people. Many patients may only feel mild discomfort when lifting heavy objects. But some patients may have sharp pain that limits activities and some may suffer from chronic pain.

The most effective treatment for acute lower back pain is conservative therapy which includes:

  • Rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (counter pain relievers)
  • Hot and Cold Therapy
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture

Chiropractors use spinal adjustments and spinal manipulation to correct misalignments and muscle spasms to reduce inflammation and restore proper nerve function.

Depending on your medical history and need of having it, sometimes you may receive an epidural injection to decrease the pain and increase movement. This is only given in extreme cases.

Lower back pain can be caused by several factors such as poor posture, sitting at a desk for long periods of time, and sleeping in a bad position. The best way to treat lower back pain is to try to avoid these situations and find ways to relax when necessary.

We recommend you try Hempe® Hot & Ice gel to see if it works for you. It aims to mirror parts of hot and cold therapy and also non steroidal anti-inflammatories. It goes without saying that you should visit a physical therapist if you are suffering from severe pain. 

 

How should I sleep to relieve back pain?

Sleeping on a firm bed is the best way to reduce back pain. If you cannot afford a new mattress, you can try sleeping on a foam pad. 

Try using pillows to support your neck and head. Also, avoid sleeping on your stomach because it puts pressure on your neck and spinal canal, which could lead to injury.

If you have lower back pain, then sleeping on your side may help alleviate some of the discomfort. Sleeping on your left side might also be helpful as it is thought to have the best benefits for your overall health!

Finally, use lumbar supports to help keep your body straight while lying down.

Don't forget to be careful when lifting heavy objects such as suitcases, and try to increase activity levels and avoid sitting for long periods of time. Try taking frequent breaks to stretch and move around.

What organ could cause lower back pain?

Any organ could cause lower back pain. The spine is made up of bones called vertebrae, which are connected by discs. These discs act like shock absorbers between each bone. When one of these discs becomes damaged, it may push against the spinal nerve roots causing lower back pain. Another common source of lower back pain comes from muscle strain. This happens when muscles become tight and pull on joints. You may also experience joint pain or leg pain at the same time. 

Is it better to sit or lay down with lower back pain?

The best position for someone suffering from acute lower back pain is sitting up straight, leaning forward slightly, and resting his/her head against the wall. This way, he/she will be able to relieve pressure off of the spine. If the person cannot lie down, then they should try to find a comfortable position where they can recline. People who suffer from chronic lower back pain should avoid lifting heavy objects or bending over at all costs. They should also avoid sleeping positions that put too much stress on their backs.

Lying down with bad back pain can sometimes cause muscle spasms and worsen your condition. If you need to rest for a while, try sitting upright in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.

What is better for lower back pain heat or cold?

Hot therapy helps relieve muscle spasms and relaxes tight muscles. Cold therapy relieves inflammation and speeds recovery. Both methods work well together to treat back pain. However, if you are suffering from bad back pain, it should also be treated with physical therapy.

Can you prevent lower back pain?

Yes, you can often prevent lower back pain by doing exercises such as stretching, walking, swimming, biking, yoga, weightlifting, and pilates. The key is to do these as daily activities. 

Stretching helps relieve tight muscles and tension in the back. Yoga also strengthens the core muscles, which help stabilise your spine. Walking, biking, swimming, and other forms of physical activity strengthen your cardiovascular system and increase endurance. Weightlifting and Pilates build strength and tone muscles.

As noted above, obesity can exacerbate the problem so maintaining a healthy weight or in some cases pursuing weight loss where appropriate can help lower the chances of back pain.

Lower back pain as we mention above is common among office workers, as sitting for long periods of time can cause discomfort. The best way to avoid lower back pain is to stand up from your desk at least once an hour, stretch regularly, and use ergonomic furniture. Also, try to keep your computer monitor at eye level, and don't spend too much time reading email.

When do I visit the doctor?

Lower back pain is one of the most common ailments among adults. Most people experience it at least once during their lifetime. It's one of the leading reasons people go to the doctor but quite often the problem isn't serious at all and in many cases the pain will go away without treatment.

However, if you have severe lower back pain, then obviously it's important that you should seek medical attention immediately as it likely will not go away easily on its own. The severity of your symptoms may require immediate treatment. If you wait too long, then the condition could become worse and you may aggravate it further without the proper medical advice..

Alternatively, if the pain persists, it may indicate other issues which require treatment from a specialist. So if you are experiencing the pain over a number of weeks and it is not getting better, it's always best to check with a medical profession.

Further Research

  • Low Back Pain Pictures: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments - WebMD's low back pain slideshow explains the most common causes of low back pain and what you can do to help alleviate it. (webmd.com)
  • Back pain - NHS - Find out how to relieve back pain, what can cause it, and when to get medical advice. (nhs.uk)
  • Lower Back Pain Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment - Lower back pain can be caused by problems with the spinal muscles, nerves, bones, discs or tendons. Learn about the main causes and treatment options. (spine-health.com)
  • Lower Back Pain: Treatments and Causes - Have a look at health information from Bupa about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of lower back pain. Symptoms include soreness and stiffness. (bupa.co.uk)
  • Lower Back Pain: What Could It Be? | Johns Hopkins Medicine - Rehabilitation physician and back pain expert Akhil Chhatre answers questions about lower back pain and sheds some light on its origin. (hopkinsmedicine.org)
  • Low Back Pain: Causes, Tests, and Treatments - Low back pain is often caused by an injury, like a muscle sprain, or an underlying condition, like sciatica. Learn more about causes, treatments, and prevention methods. (healthline.com)
  • Back pain - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic (mayoclinic.org)
  • Low Back Pain Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatments - Low and lower back pain can vary from dull pain that develops gradually to sudden, sharp or persistent pain felt below the waist. (spineuniverse.com)
  • Low Back Pain - OrthoInfo - AAOS - Low back pain sometimes occurs after a specific movement, such as lifting or bending. Just getting older also plays a role in many back conditions. This article explains some of the more common causes of low back pain and describes some general treat (orthoinfo.aaos.org)
  • Overview | Low back pain and sciatica in over 16s: assessment and management | Guidance | NICE(nice.org.uk)
  • Rehabilitation of Low Back Pain in Golfers: From Diagnosis to Return to Sport - Low back injuries are the most common injury in golf. Best practice guidelines for rehabilitation and prevention of these injuries are helpful for health care professionals and all golfers.To establish a best practice clinical model for low back pain (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  • Lower Back Pain Causes: 8 Reasons for Sudden & Chronic Pain | Houston Methodist On Health - Whether back pain comes on suddenly or lingers despite treatment, it's important to know the cause of your lower back pain. Learn about the common causes of lower back pain here. (houstonmethodist.org)
  • Low back pain - acute: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia - Low back pain refers to pain that you feel in your lower back. You may also have back stiffness, decreased movement of the lower back, and difficulty standing straight. (medlineplus.gov)
  • Low back pain in adults: early management (nice.org.uk)
  • Lower Back Pain: Exercise, Causes, Treatment, Symptoms & Diagnosis - Get information on causes of mild to severe lower back pain (arthritis, pregnancy, herniated disc, sciatica, ovarian cysts). Read about low back pain signs, symptoms, backache treatment, and diagnosis. Learn how to get relief from severe pain. (medicinenet.com)
  • Acute Mechanical Back Pain: Symptoms & Treatment - Acute mechanical back pain is very common. The cause varies, and is only discovered about 80% of the time. Most people recover quickly with simple treatments. (my.clevelandclinic.org)
  • Self-help guide: Lower back pain - Find out more about your lower back pain symptoms, when you can use self-care, and what to do if your back pain worsens and you need medical help. (nhsinform.scot)

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