Lower back pain is fairly common; it affects 8 out of 10 Americans, making it one of the top complaints in the US.
But why is this?
Causes of Lower Back Pain
The majority of body weight rests in the trunk (middle area), and the lumbar (lower back) bears the brunt of it. The curvature of the lumbar creates opportunities for stress, especially when poor posture or improper lifting techniques are involved.
Lower back problems can also occur as a result of medical conditions and inactivity. Spinal conditions such as herniated discs, scoliosis, and root nerve pain all contribute to lower back pain
Many who experience lower back pain become frustrated with the constant pain. However, successful treatments do exist. The key is to find a qualified specialist to administer such treatments.
Professional Treatment Options
Your specialist may recommend a variety of treatments to relieve pain. Some treatments may include physical therapy or even surgery, depending on your individual needs.
Physical therapy usually involves consistent stretches and massage therapy to provide pain relief. Additionally, physical therapy plans that include core exercises help build the muscles in your back, which reduces pressure in painful nerve areas.
In some situations, surgical treatment is an option that may provide a successful outcome. Spinal fusion, for example, joins spinal bones (vertebrae) together to restrict motion between the bones of the spine. This also limits the stretching of nerves. However, this option may seem extreme to some, so they consider surgery for back pain only after they’ve exhausted other options.
Unfortunately, even back surgery doesn’t work on everyone, and a life full of pain medications isn’t usually ideal for those who have had restorative back surgeries with little to no effect. Consequently, many professionals are expanding their treatment options to include spinal cord stimulation as well.
Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)
Neuro stimulation applies an electrical current to the source of pain. Essentially, it replaces the pain signals to the brain.
To achieve this, a surgeon places a network of thin wires near the spinal column, with each wire sporting an electrical receiver tip. Once the surgeon places the wires through a needle, he then makes an incision to insert the generator. This generator emits electrical currents to the spinal column. It also controls the currents in each wire.
The goal with spinal cord stimulation is to lessen the amount of overall pain felt by the patient. Although spinal cord stimulation does not work for everyone, it can provide anywhere between 50-70% of chronic pain relief. This enables chronic back pain suffers to live their lives with minimal pain medication.
Keep in mind that your back problem might not respond to just any treatment. It’s important to realize that certain professional treatments aren’t right for everyone, including physical therapy, surgery, and spinal cord stimulation.
By working in tandem with your specialist, however, you can also personally contribute to your spine health by doing your part at home.
If you want to take action with some basic back pain remedies, start with the following steps:
- Limit bed rest. Several studies show that prolonged bed rest can increase harmful swelling and even nerve damage. Your body needs movement as well as rest to heal, so don’t stay in bed too long. Use an app on your phone to remind you to get up on time or to calculate how much rest you get each day.
- Maintain an exercise routine. Depending on your situation, exercise can be one of the best remedies for back pain. This is because it promotes muscle strength and releases endorphins into the body. Anything that keeps you out of a stiff sitting posture can help, including walking or swimming. In fact, swimming is easy on your back because the water supports your weight.
- Watch your posture. You may be hearing your mother’s voice echoing through this command, but maintaining good posture helps you train your back. It decreases pressure on your back by nearly 50%, so you minimize further damage.
- Apply Ice and Heat. Cold packs and heating pads reduce swelling and sooth aching back muscles. The change in temperature also promotes circulation, which supports healing and reduces pain.
Aside from these basic practices, medication can also play a role in lessening pain because it interrupts nerve signals in the brain. A nutritious diet is also an important step toward a healthier spine and lower back.
Contact a Specialist
Whether your lower back pain is a recent development or something you’ve struggled with for years, don’t wait to contact a specialist. With the help of a qualified physician, you can understand and better deal with any problems you might have. You’ll also receive helpful and reliable treatments. Your doctor can be your health advocate as well as an emotional support throughout your experience.