Backache? Instead of Oxycontin, Do These Things
Updated: Apr 16
If you are an American you have doubtlessly been unlucky enough to experience lower back pain at least once in your life (if not more). Some of you have had backache displeasure so extreme you needed to go to the doctor or couldn’t even get out of bed to for work (or so you told your boss). Lower back pain (LBP) is kind of puzzling. Have you’ve been told your back pain is due to a herniated disc? It just might not be true. Many in the medical profession used to believe the majority of LBP was caused by disc herniations. According to MRI studies, most of us are walking around right now with a herniated discs and/or other spinal dysfunctions. But the thing is, many of these ‘issues’ cause no pain and are completely asymptomatic. A significant number ‘pain-free’ people exhibit disc bulges on MRI and CT scans despite the fact that they have no back pain at all! Not all herniations cause pain.
The Cleveland Clinic states: “25% of all asymptomatic (pain-free) people who climb into an MRI machine will have a herniated disc… As many as 60% of healthy adults with no back pain have degenerative changes in their spines”. The risk and cost of getting an MRI for LBP in most cases are not scientifically justified. Here are some other reasons posited for LBP:
Fatigue and strains of the soft tissue in and around the spine due to repeated stress
Muscle imbalances putting asymmetrical force on the boney structures of the spine
Pregnancy or just having a big ol’ beer belly will stress the tissue in your lower back
Emotional and psychological issues can result in pain
Faulty posture and breathing patterns
Some forms of cancer cause LPB (uncommon)
Arthritis and osteoporosis
Traumatic injury like being drunk and falling off your toilet (33,000 injuries each year while using the toilet!)
Abnormal bone growth
Just like your life, things are not always so black and white…complexity rules the day. LBP is a complicated issue and is likely caused by many factors. LBP is a multifactorial condition and may require a few disparate rehabilitation approaches. The good news is 90% of individuals experiencing LBP will recover within 6 weeks all on their own. But these very same people will likely ‘throw’ their back out again in another year or two. The injury cycle repeats itself. Ugh! To stop the insanity and break the cycle there are many things you can do to prevent backaches.
Top 10 Things You Can Do To Prevent Lower Back Pain
Move, move and move some more. Our sedentary lifestyles (chairs glued to our butts) wreck havoc on our spinal health. A healthy spine is a moving spine. Start a regular exercise program and learn correct movement patterns.
Stop sitting so much. Human anatomy was not designed to sit in chairs. Prolonged sitting causes muscle imbalances, postural defects, weight gain, decreased insulin sensitivity, earlier death etc. If you want to sit, practice the ‘3rd world squat‘- it will increase your spinal mobility and may even help you in the bathroom.
Do not stretch in the morning. Give your spine a chance to settle (it gets up to 1/2 inch longer while you sleep) before you do yogalaties or what have you.
Practice good posture throughout the day. And carry packages or bags in both hands or switch often. Use a backpack (preferably one with straps) instead of a heavy handbag or briefcase
Maybe do not stretch at all! Static stretching may make your joints less stable and open you up to future injury.
Go barefoot whenever you can and minimize the time you spend in heels. Your 4 inch Prada spiked heels dramatically increase lumbar lordosis putting a lot of extra strain on your back, wear sparingly.
Go for a brisk walk on a regular basis without bags or a phone glued to your ear. While ambulating be sure to naturally let your arms swing at your sides. This unloads and loads your back while realigning your pelvis.
Manage your stress levels and start meditating. This is good for everything.
Quit smoking. Smoking decreases blood flow to your discs which promotes faster degeneration. And it weakens your bones.
Lose weight especially belly fat which pulls you forward and puts extra strain on your back.
Science has shown these 4 things do not help lower back pain and may, in fact, increase the chance of a recurrence:
If you currently have LPB check out these 3 things you can do right now to alleviate pain: The Lumbering Lumbar
Doug Joachim – NYC Personal trainer