Get the low down on lower back pain
Do you suffer from lower back pain? If your sore back affects your ability to get on with your day, you’re not alone. Lower back pain is a very common problem that affects 80% of people at some time. Symptoms can vary from a dull ache to shooting pains or spasms in your lower back muscles, or your middle or upper back.
For most people, the good news is a sore back is usually temporary. And with the right management you will probably feel better in a few days or weeks.
To get you started on the road to recovery, here’s the low-down on common causes of back pain, what you can do to help get back pain relief, and tips on how to help prevent lower back injury:
WHAT PUTS THE PAIN IN BACK PAIN?
Some of the most common causes of back pain are:
Overstretching during lifting, bending or twisting
Poor sleeping position or a sagging mattress
Lack of exercise
With increased risk factors of back pain being:
You’re more likely to suffer from back pain as you get older – it’s most common in people between the ages of 30 and 50.
You’re also more likely to get back pain if you don’t normally exercise and sit at a desk for extended periods. But sometimes you get back pain because you’ve exercised too much! It’s about finding the right balance.
TIPS TO HELP MANAGE BACK PAIN
There are several things you can do to reduce the risk of low back injury:
Lift correctly and avoid heavy items: use your legs and not your back
Don’t slouch when standing or sitting
Keep good posture at all times
Exercise regularly and control your weight
Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes
Sleep on your side to minimise any curve in your spine and use a firm mattress
HOW CAN YOU RELIEVE BACK PAIN?
When you’ve got back pain, it may be tempting to climb into bed and stay there. But there are simple things you can do in the first 2-3 days to help relieve a sore back and speed your recovery:
Self-care: ice your back for 20 minutes every 1-2 hours when awake; making sure not to apply ice directly onto skin. For the first few days you should avoid applying heat to your back, or indulging in alcohol and massage (even if it feels nice). This will increase inflammation and swelling in your tissues. After 2-3 days you can introduce heat patches, such as Nurofen Heat Patches, to soothe your aching muscles.
Stay active: avoid activities you don’t need to do – but keep up gentle movement if you can and stretch regularly. Exercises for low back pain can be an effective way to speed healing. If you’re unsure, ask your physiotherapist to show you back stretches and back strengthening exercises that can aid your recovery.
Keep moving: avoid staying in one position (e.g. sitting at your computer, watching TV or lying down) for longer than 20-30 minutes at a time. The sooner you can move normally again, the better your back will feel.
Control the pain: taking a simple pain reliever, like Nurofen, may help you to stay active by helping to provide temporary respite from inflammation, and mild-moderate lower back pain relief. If you are over 65 years, taking other medicines, pregnant or breastfeeding, seek advice from your healthcare professional first.
Be positive: if your back pain is making you frustrated or irritable, try not to let it control you. Practising some simple relaxation and breathing techniques may help you to cope while your back heals.
See your doctor if your back pain does not improve over time or you have any other symptoms that worry you (e.g. fever, difficulty passing urine, weakness, numbness, or pins and needles in your legs).