SO WHO HAS BACK PAIN?
Almost everyone has back pain at one point or another.
HOW EXACLTY DOES THE BACK WORK?
There are many structures in the lower back which can cause problems and pain.
• Vertebral bones
• In between these bones are disks which act as shock absorbers
• There are also ligaments which hold the bones together, and tendons holding muscles to bones
ARE THE DISCS CAUSING MY PAIN?
Let’s concentrate on this one specific structure first.
The disc is the most commonly injured structure in the back and could at times be very disabling.
The disc is quite fascinating because of its nerve supply. We don’t consistently get pain when we're doing damage to our backs. So keep in mind that a lack of pain is not always a good guide to how well you are treating your back.
A disc that is healthy looks a bit like a jelly donut – the interior of the disc contains the nucleus pulposus and the adjacent dough is the annulus fibrosus.
Bending or sitting, especially while slouched, spots a large quantity of force on the back and also the discs. Interestingly, work that includes heavy lifting can put just as much strain on the back as sitting.
A painful disc is one where the jam has leaked out of the dough so to speak. A prolapsed disc or disc bulge can vary in severity, from serious enough to need surgery to just causing a lower back ache.
Based on how large the “jam ” is, it can start to crush the nerves in the spinal cord which can cause symptoms like pain or pins/needles down the leg, muscle weakness, and loss of bowel or bladder control.
IT’S NOT ONLY DISCS
Let’s leave the discs for a moment. Pressure can also accumulated on the joints, ligaments, and muscles as well. For example, bending back and forth and twisting your back can place more excessive forces on the facet joints.
With regard to treatment and exercises, it is very important to understand which structures in your back have been injured in order to decide the right exercises and treatment.
OUR TOP STRATEGIES FOR PREVENTING BACK PAIN
Tip 1. Pacing
At home you don’t have to finish your chores at the same time.
You don’t have to vacuum the whole house all in one day. Mix some vacuuming with some dusting or surface cleaning up.
Change tasks. Perhaps skip a weekend to move around all the furniture in the home if you had a busy week sitting at work.
Its not unusual that a simple activity such as picking up the cat or getting up after sitting on the couch or bending over to dry your toes in the morning can be enough to “break the camel’s back”.
Tip 2. Pause
At work don’t sit for more than 30 minutes without a break.
You don’t have to go for every 30 mins walk but when you sit for a long time, you can just stand up. This could alleviate the pressure on the spine.
Practical methods include establishing a screen saver on your own computer, setting an alarm in your phone to remind you. Consider making time for “Mini-breaks” - you can have a cup of tea and a rest in between housework.
Bottom line, don’t be obsessed with getting it all done simultaneously.
Tip 3. Position
Think more about the kind of positions you are getting your back into every day and make an effort to minimise twisting and turning.
Your mouse should be easy to reach if at a desk. Use a laptop stand if it helps you get into a better position. An ergonomic appraisal at work it can make all the difference.
Place the laundry basket on table or a stand instead of bending on a regular basis, carry smaller loads.
Extend the height of the hoover. Lunge as an alternative to bending. Same goes with mopping – use smaller amount of water in buckets.
Utilize a kneeling stool.
Instead of bending, squat.
Utilize the hose instead of a bucket.
Bend your knees.
If you can, always plan to get a helper.
Tip 4. Perform Exercise
Reduce your chances of getting back pain with regular cardiovascular exercise.
Tip 5. Support Your Back
Support your spine in physically and anatomically:
A comfortable seat that supports your back using a cushion or lumbar rolls can be useful
With Strong Muscles
Pilates and yoga classes can be a great method to exercise your core muscles as well as keep your spine flexible.
Whether you have had back pain or you are trying to prevent it, these three exercises above are a great way to get started. Give them a try at home along with with some walking, heat/ice, and if you have mild to moderate back pain try as OTC only if needed.
The good news is that physical therapy can help in the event you have a stubborn or worsening low back pain or stiffness. The most significant thing is to have your back accurately assessed and diagnosed to find out what's causing your back pain. Don’t take guidance from your next door neighbour or your gym instructor because all back pains are not the same.
Physical therapists are specifically trained to properly evaluate your spine and determine a suitable treatment plan. We'll give you a rehabilitation program and also specific exercise recommendations to make sure you make a total recovery.
Emery Physical Therapy has Certified Orthopedic Specialists to help you recover in the event of an back injury. To learn more about our services, contact 847-786-2014 or click HERE.
Read more BLOG articles on Back Pain:
Learn more about back pain and disc problems HERE.