According to the World Health Organization, up to 70% of the population will experience lower back pain at some point during their life. Luckily, most causes of lower back pain are benign, however, it’s important to know the source of your pain so you can determine the proper treatment option.
The lower back is made up of vertebrae, ligaments, fascia, and muscle that keep the lumbar spine in place. Nerves roots join at the base of the spinal cord where the vertebrae and intervertebral discs (IVDs), shock-absorbers situated between each vertebrae, come together at the base of the spinal canal. This intricate network of nerves and muscles and discs allows you to move while providing strength and support, however, it also allows for increased opportunity for injury.
Lower back pain is an extremely prevalent health problem worldwide, and also a major cause of disability. It is estimated that over three-quarters of Americans experience lower back pain at some stage, and it is a condition that can affect everyone from children to the elderly. Back pain can have so many different causes – poor posture, too much time driving or sitting in front of a computer, wearing the wrong shoes (no matter how cute they are), or an uncomfortable mattress can all contribute. The pain can be excruciating and debilitating – you can learn more in this article discussing the symptoms and diagnosis of lower back pain.
The good news is that there are plenty of natural remedies for topical pain relief that can help alleviate and treat the pain, and even some preventative measures you can take to nip back pain in the bud. Here, we’ll discuss some of the many different options for preventing or treating lower back pain.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
Causes of lower back pain range from diseases, such as cancer or osteoporosis, to injuries, such as strain from lifting something that is too heavy or lifting it incorrectly. More severe trauma like a fall or an accident can also lead to lingering lower back pain. Common symptoms associated with lower back pain include an inability to get comfortable, numbness, and tingling in the lower extremities.
Perhaps one of the most common causes of lower back pain is sciatica. Sciatica occurs when a disc places too much pressure on a nerve root and can send debilitating pain and numbness down one leg. This can occur simply as a byproduct of age, but it can also occur from a herniated lumbar disc.
Learn more about lower back pain causes.Learn More About Back Pain Causes
Recognizing the Symptoms of Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain can be described in one of three ways – fleeting, intermittent, or consistent. Similarly, a diagnosis is determined in one of three ways – acute, subacute, or chronic. Acute pain is typically the result of an injury and disappears once the body is fully healed. Subacute pain can interfere with daily activities and lasts anywhere from six weeks to a month. Chronic pain is any pain that lingers beyond three months and can also interfere with daily life.
Recognizing the symptoms of lower back pain is the first step toward diagnosing the root cause of the problem. More minor symptoms of lower back pain are localized and can include stiffness, achiness, and muscle spasms.
Signs of a more serious issue will include weakness in the lower extremities, a fever, sudden weight loss, and an inability to get comfortable. These symptoms could be the result of fracture, arthritis, or a disc that is herniated or bulging.
Diagnosing lower back pain requires a visit to your primary care physician, at which point he or she will probe the area giving you discomfort and test your strength and mobility. In some cases, further testing may be required before making a proper diagnosis.
Follow the link to understand more about back pain diagnosis, symptoms, and lower back pain relief.Learn More About Lower Back Pain Symptoms & Diagnosis
Treatment Options for Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain can put a strain on your life – literally, but it doesn’t have to. There are innumerable ways to treat lower back pain, with remedies ranging from the medicinal to the holistic. First and foremost, if your lower back pain is at about an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10, consult your primary care physician prior to trying any naturopath modalities toward healing your back.
Otherwise, here are some things you can try on your own to heal and strengthen the health of your back:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Create an ergonomic workspace
- Apply ice
- Get a massage
- See an acupuncturist
Another effective treatment option that can bring quick relief is to apply a topical pain reliever. This is an excellent option for those looking to avoid over-the-counter (OTC) oral pain relievers and prescription pain relievers with their potentially dangerous side effects. While some topical pain relievers also contain potentially habit-forming chemicals and opiates, there are all-natural options on the market that provide the same relief. CBDMEDIC’s Back & Neck Pain Relief Ointment is one such naturopath option. The active ingredients of camphor and menthol work to relieve minor pain associated with sore muscles, strains, and muscle knots.
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Simple Stretches for Lower Back Pain
Who doesn’t feel immensely satisfied after a good stretch? Stretching is another sure-fire way to alleviate – and prevent – lower back pain without the need for intervention of OTC oral pain relievers or prescription pain relievers. Stretching the lower back can loosen the muscles there and relieve pressure on the spine that’s built-up over time.
Learn 4 simple stretches for lower back pain you can do at home.Learn More About Stretches for Back Pain
Simple Exercises for Strengthening Your Lower Back
The absolute worst thing you can do when you experience lower back pain and strain is to stop moving. It’s imperative you resist the urge to veg out on the couch and binge-watch your favorite show until the pain subsides. Doing so will actually cause the muscles to stiffen up more which can prolong healing time.
That’s not to say you should go full-tilt at the gym or participate in a triathlon if you have lower back pain. However, integrating some gentle strength exercises for the core and back into your regular workout routine will not only help bring relief to your lower back pain but will also help prevent future injury.
Before embarking on any exercise regime – especially if you’re experiencing lower back pain – it’s important to always check with your doctor first.
One of the best exercises you can do to help with lower back pain, as well as tone and strengthen the tummy, legs, and glutes, is a basic lunge. To perform the move:
- Place one knee flat on the floor while placing your other foot in front of that bent leg.
- Keep your back straight, hands on your hips, and gently press the hips forward.
- Hold for about 20-30 seconds.
- Repeat up to 2 times on each leg.
Learn 6 additional exercises for lower back pain relief.Learn More About Exercises for Lower Back pain
The Best of Both Worlds: Yoga for Lower Back Pain
Something else you can do to alleviate and prevent lower back pain is yoga. Yoga, the Sanskrit word for yoke, meaning to “bring together,” does exactly that – it combines stretching and strengthening into one activity to help heal your lower back. It also brings together the body and the mind through breathwork, meditation, and a series of pose with the goal of increasing your self-awareness so you can understand what’s happening within your own body a bit more.
How does this help heal lower back pain?
By increasing your awareness of what is happening in the body, you can catch lower back pain the second it starts, as well as learn to move in such a way that it might not even happen in the first place.
As a bonus, yoga can also help improve sleep, reduce stress, and relieve anxiety.
A great yoga move that helps achieve all these things is Reclined Supine Twist. Not only does twisting relieve tension in the low back, but it restores balance to the body, helps improve breathing, and calms the nerves.
To perform a Reclined Supine Twist:
- Begin by laying on your back. Extend your arms either straight off the shoulders or bend at the elbows in a cactus or goal-post pose.
- Draw the knees in toward the chest and drop them to the right. If the knees have trouble touching down, place a pillow or a yoga block under the bottom knee, bringing the floor up to meet you. You want to be able to relax into this pose.
- Try and release the left shoulder closer to the floor (it’s okay if it doesn’t touch down all the way).
- Notice if the head wants to crank way back in this position. If it does, place a rolled towel or blanket under the head to create more of a straight line with the spine.
- Remain here for about a minute before drawing the knees up through center and over to the other side, holding for one minute there.
Discover 8 more yoga poses for lower back pain that can help bring relief.Learn More About Yoga for Back Pain