My name is Manu Kalia. I am a physical therapist. In this article I want to share a few simple tips that I teach my patients to help them manage their low back problems. Eighty percent of the population is affected by low back issues, so I think this is a really important topic.
Every low back pain is different or unique in its own way. Each patient needs to figure out what aggravates the symptoms and what alleviates or relieves the pain. That's very important to understand. Also, the body will heal itself but you have to give it the right environment to heal. Medication may provide temporary relief but they do not needarily address the undering issue.
The first thing to find out is the cause, that which aggravates the problem or increases the problem, and then to remove that cause. I always tell my patients that if I hit myself with a hammer and I continue doing so, I do not give the injured tissue time to heal? I keep aggravating it, keep injuring the tissue and do not allow enough time to heal. Same way most of us keep pushing it even when we are hurt or injured. So it's very important to figure out the activities that are causing you more pain, and avoid repeating them.
The first concept to think about is whether your back is sensitive to load bearing activities (like standing, sitting, bending, walking, etc.); and if it is load sensitive you must avoid these positions. So always ask yourself, does this increase my problem? If so, I have to unload the spine to get relief from back pain.
Unloading can be done by lying down, whether you are lying on your stomach, on your side or on your back – any of those positions that are comfortable.
In physical therapy I often use manual or mechanical traction for my patients. This is similar to using an inversion table to unload and relate the compression on the spine – basically removing the pressure off of the joints, the disks, the nerves and the local structures.
Second important point to remember is whether the problem is made worse by static positions or with movement? If static positions like sitting or standing in one position increase the pain then it's best to get out of those positions and move repeatedly.
When movement makes the pain worst, it's best to avoid excessive movement or excessive activity. Whether it's housework, yard work, exercise or other physical activities, you have to moderate the activity level. This will give the injured tissue time to rest and heal.
Another important point to consider is whether the pain is made worse by bending or arching the spine. Positions that cause the spine to round forward like sitting, bending, etc. will cause more pain. On the other hand if the pain is made worst by arching the back as in standing upright, arching backwards or lying on the stomach, then these positions should be avoided.
It is very important to understand which of these positions or activities, cause you more pain. Once you identify the painful positions, avoid those positions and do more of the opposite to allow the spine to heal.
I hope you find this helpful; these are just some simple tips to start thinking about and you could implement these yourself.