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Tips to Manage Low Back Pain at Home

Perhaps you bent the wrong way while lifting something heavy. Or you’re dealing with a degenerative condition like arthritis. Whatever the cause, once you have low back pain, it can be hard to shake. About one in four say they’ve had a recent bout of low back pain. And almost everyone can expect to experience back pain at some point in their lives.

Sometimes it’s clearly serious: You were injured, or you feel numbness, weakness, or tingling in the legs. Call the doctor, of course. But for routine and mild low back pain, here are a few simple tips to try at home.

Spinal Stenosis

Chill it. Ice is best in the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury because it reduces inflammation. “Even though the warmth feels good because it helps cover up the pain and it does help relax the muscles, the heat actually inflames the inflammatory processes,” she says. After 48 hours, you can switch to heat if you prefer. Whether you use heat or ice — take it off after about 20 minutes to give your skin a rest. If pain persists, talk with a doctor.

Keep moving. “Our spines are like the rest of our body — they’re meant to move. Keep doing your daily activities. Make the beds, go to work, walk the dog. Once you’re feeling better, regular aerobic exercises like swimming, bicycling, and walking can keep you — and your back — more mobile. Just don’t overdo it. There’s no need to run a marathon when your back is sore.

Stay strong. Once your low back pain has receded, you can help avert future episodes of back pain by working the muscles that support your lower back, including the back extensor muscles. “They help you maintain the proper posture and alignment of your spine. Having strong hip, pelvic, and abdominal muscles also gives you more back support. Avoid abdominal crunches, because they can actually put more strain on your back.

Stretch. Don’t sit slumped in your desk chair all day. Get up every 20 minutes or so and stretch the other way. Because most of us spend a lot of time bending forward in our jobs, it’s important to stand up and stretch backward throughout the day. Don’t forget to also stretch your legs. Some people find relief from their back pain by doing a regular stretching routine, like yoga.

Think ergonomically. Design your workspace so you don’t have to hunch forward to see your computer monitor or reach way out for your mouse. Use a desk chair that supports your lower back and allows you to keep your feet planted firmly on the floor.

Watch your posture. Slumping makes it harder for your back to support your weight. Be especially careful of your posture when lifting heavy objects. Never bend over from the waist. Instead, bend and straighten from the knees.

Wear low heels. Exchange your four-inch pumps for flats or low heels (less than 1 inch). High heels create a more unstable posture, and increase pressure on your lower spine. According to research, nearly 60% of women who consistently wear high-heeled shoes complain of low back pain.

Kick the habit. Smoking can increase your risk for osteoporosis of the spine and other bone problems. Osteoporosis can lead to compression fractures of the spine. One study found that smokers are about a third more likely to have low back pain compared with nonsmokers.

Watch your weight. Use diet and exercise to keep your weight within a healthy range for your height. Being overweight puts excess stress on your spine.

Try an over-the-counter pain reliever. Anti-inflammatory drugs can help reduce back pain. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist about any interactions over-the-counter pain relievers may have with other medications you are taking. People with a history of certain medical conditions (such as ulcers, kidney disease, and liver disease) should avoid some medicines.

Call your doctor if:

  • Your low back pain doesn’t go away after a few days, and it hurts even when you’re at rest or lying down.
  • You have weakness or numbness in your legs, or you have trouble standing or walking
  • You lose control over your bowels or bladder

These could be signs that you have a nerve problem or another underlying medical condition that needs to be treated.

STOP YOUR BACK PAIN TODAY! CALL US AT +65 6471 2744 or EMAIL TO: info@boneclinic.com.sg FOR APPOINTMENT

Patient Education of Back Pain

Back pain is a common complaint. Most people in the Singapore will experience low back pain at least once during their lives. Back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor or miss work.

On the bright side, you can take measures to prevent or lessen most back pain episodes. If prevention fails, simple home treatment and proper body mechanics will often heal your back within a few weeks and keep it functional for the long haul. Surgery is rarely needed to treat back pain.

Symptoms of Back Pain:

Symptoms of back pain may include:

  • Muscle ache
  • Shooting or stabbing pain
  • Pain that radiates down your leg
  • Limited flexibility or range of motion of the back
  • Inability to stand up straight

When to see a doctor
Most back pain gradually improves with home treatment and self-care. Although the pain may take several weeks to disappear completely, you should notice some improvement within the first 72 hours of self-care. If not, see your doctor.

In rare cases, back pain can signal a serious medical problem. Seek immediate care if your back pain:

  • Causes new bowel or bladder problems
  • Is associated with pain or throbbing (pulsation) in the abdomen, or fever
  • Follows a fall, blow to your back or other injury

Contact a doctor if your back pain:

  • Is constant or intense, especially at night or when you lie down
  • Spreads down one or both legs, especially if the pain extends below the knee
  • Causes weakness, numbness or tingling in one or both legs
  • Is accompanied by unexplained weight loss
  • Occurs with swelling or redness on your back

Also, see your doctor if you start having back pain for the first time after age 50, or if you have a history of cancer, osteoporosis, steroid use, or drug or alcohol abuse.

Causes of Back Pain:

Back pain often develops without a specific cause that your doctor can identify with a test or imaging study. Conditions commonly linked to back pain include:

  • Muscle or ligament strain.Repeated heavy lifting or a sudden awkward movement may strain back muscles and spinal ligaments. If you’re in poor physical condition, constant strain on your back may cause painful muscle spasms.
  • Bulging or ruptured disks. Disks act as cushions between the individual bones (vertebrae) in your spine. Sometimes, the soft material inside a disk may bulge out of place or rupture and press on a nerve. The presence of a bulging or ruptured disk on an X-ray doesn’t automatically equal back pain, though. Disk disease is often found incidentally; many people who don’t have back pain turn out to have bulging or ruptured disks when they undergo spine X-rays for some other reason.
  • Arthritis. Osteoarthritis can affect the lower back. In some cases, arthritis in the spine can lead to a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord, a condition called spinal stenosis.
  • Skeletal irregularities. Back pain can occur if your spine curves in an abnormal way. Scoliosis, a condition in which your spine curves to the side, also may lead to back pain, but generally only if the scoliosis is quite severe.
  • Osteoporosis. Compression fractures of your spine’s vertebrae can occur if your bones become porous and brittle.

Risk Factors of Back Pain:

Anyone can develop back pain, even children and teens. Although excess weight, lack of exercise and improper lifting are often blamed for back pain, research looking at these possible risk factors hasn’t yet provided any clear-cut answers.

One group that does appear to have a greater risk of back pain are people with certain psychological issues, such as depression and anxiety, though the reasons why there’s an increased risk aren’t known.

Test and Diagnosis of Back Pain:

Anyone can develop back pain, even children and teens. Although excess weight, lack of exercise and improper lifting are often blamed for back pain, research looking at these possible risk factors hasn’t yet provided any clear-cut answers.

One group that does appear to have a greater risk of back pain are people with certain psychological issues, such as depression and anxiety, though the reasons why there’s an increased risk aren’t known.

Treatment of Back Pain:

Most back pain gets better with a few weeks of home treatment and careful attention. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be all that you need to improve your pain. A short period of bed rest is OK, but more than a couple of days actually does more harm than good. Continue your daily activities as much as you can tolerate. Light activity, such as walking and daily activities of living, is usually OK. But, if an activity increases your pain, stop doing that activity. If home treatments aren’t working after several weeks, your doctor may suggest stronger medications or other therapies.

Medications
Our doctor is likely to recommend pain relievers such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen. Both types of medications are effective at relieving back pain. Take these medications as directed by our doctor, because overuse can cause serious side effects. If mild to moderate back pain doesn’t get better with over-the-counter pain relievers, your doctor may also prescribe a muscle relaxant. Muscle relaxants can cause dizziness and may make you very sleepy.

Education
Right now, there’s no commonly accepted program to teach people with back pain how to manage the condition effectively. That means education may be a class, a talk with your doctor, written material or a video. What’s important is that education emphasizes the importance of staying active, reducing stress and worry, and teaching ways to avoid future injury. However, it’s also important for your doctor to explain that your back pain may recur, especially during the first year after the initial episode, but that the same self-care measures will be able to help again.

Physical therapy and exercise
Physical therapy is the cornerstone of back pain treatment. A physical therapist can apply a variety of treatments, such as heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and muscle-release techniques, to your back muscles and soft tissues to reduce pain. As pain improves, the therapist can teach you specific exercises that may help increase your flexibility, strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, and improve your posture. Regular use of these techniques can help prevent pain from returning.

Injections
If other measures don’t relieve your pain and if your pain radiates down your leg, your doctor may inject cortisone — an anti-inflammatory medication — into the space around your spinal cord (epidural space). A cortisone injection helps decrease inflammation around the nerve roots, but the pain relief usually lasts less than a few months.

In some cases, your doctor may inject numbing medication and cortisone into or near the structures believed to be causing your back pain, such as the facet joints of the vertebrae. Located on the sides, top and bottom of each vertebra, these joints connect the vertebrae to one another and stabilize the spine while still allowing flexibility.

Surgery
Few people ever need surgery for back pain. If you have unrelenting pain associated with radiating leg pain or progressive muscle weakness caused by nerve compression, you may benefit from surgical intervention. Otherwise, surgery usually is reserved for pain related to structural anatomical problems that haven’t responded to intensive conservative therapy measures.

STOP YOUR BACK PAIN TODAY. CALL +65 6471 2744 OR EMAIL TO: info@boneclinic.com.sg FOR APPOINTMENT