Blog 123 Five Ways to Make Your Low Back Comfortable
There are many reasons for low back pain, some of which are fairly well known, and others that are less common. Here listed are some contributing factors to low back pain and some ideas about how you may successfully address these issues. In this blog, I am going to use more medical terminology than usual. For the sake of brevity, I will let you consult the internet or a dictionary for definitions and details if needed.
l. Spinal injuries, including spinal subluxations. An injury to the spine could include a sprain or strain of muscles, ligaments or tendons which support or stabilize the vertebral joints. For example, an automobile or biking accident or a fall indoors or outside can result in damage to the back. Healing approaches include rest to allow the injured structures to heal, anti-inflammatory herbal remedies, such as Turmeric and Boswellia, that will not interfere with cell repair, and initial 10 to 20 minutes applications of cold packs or liniment spaced out several times day, but only in the first 48 hours. After that, warming therapies such as hot compresses, warming liniment, and Acupuncture that improve circulation to the area are usually helpful. Also important are activities such as walking and swimming, and often passive mobilization, including Chiropractic adjusting, Massage therapy, ultrasound or electrostimulation. Stabilizing techniques such as Kinesiotape, and orthotics, which prevent ankle inversion or eversion, help prevent further injuries and allow faster and more complete healing. Of course, it is important to check for fractures if the injury was severe or if you suspect a fracture, including a compression fracture. Consult your Chiropractor or other Physician to obtain x-rays, MRI’s or other diagnostic images.
2. Poor standing, seated or sleeping posture, or unsupportive furniture. Slouching, standing with knees locked or hyperextended, forward head posture, and consistently placing more weight on one leg rather than the other all can result in low back pain, as can problems stemming from flat feet or chronic ankle strains and sprains. Wearing good quality shoes, corrective orthotics, staying more conscious of standing posture and pulling back or relaxing the shoulders, retracting the neck so it is not forward of the torso, keeping the weight more centered and not primarily on one leg or the other all can be helpful. Especially helpful can be work with a Strong Posture specialist or a Feldenkrais practitioner, since this will teach and reinforce balanced and healthy posture while standing, moving and sitting. Sometimes standing or even walking (treadmill) workstations can be of assistance when alternated with a seated work station. Using an exercise ball as a chair may also be helpful. And it may be time to change your mattress, box spring, or bed frame. Be sure to test out the bed first, before buying it, especially if you have low back discomfort. Disposing of old chairs or couches that force you to slouch, or placing a supportive lumbar pillow behind your spine can be effective, and might allow you to keep the old furniture.
3. Congenital and developmental anomalies, such as scoliosis (some complex spinal curvatures) and an extra lumbar vertebra or the fusion of two vertebrae or fusion of the bottom lumbar vertebra to the sacrum below it are some examples that can result in low back pain. Also problematic can be spondylolisthesis, a condition when a vertebra slips forward on the vertebra below it. This situation can be due to a spinal birth defect, a partial fracture in part of the vertebra, and it also occurs in athletes who often greatly hyperextend their spines – think of a gymnast who does many backflips. Spinal instability, disc degeneration and eventually bulging, herniation and stenosis can occur due to these and other conditions. Effective treatments include cutting down on exercises that stress the spine, rest after injury, daily exercises that strengthen the muscles supporting the spine (the paraspinal muscles), stabilization of the spine with Kinesio Tape, improving posture with the help of professionals, if necessary, including Chiropractors, Massage Therapists, and Acupuncturists. Acupuncture and Chiropractic adjusting in particular can improve blood circulation to and lymphatic drainage from the spinal area and reduce the likelihood or the rate of degenerative changes.
4. Infections, weakening or other malfunction of internal organs. Every part of the body has the potential to effect the rest of the body. For example, a hyper or hypo thyroid condition can result in poor sleep, fatigue, weakening of muscles and ligaments, hair loss, bone thinning, depression, and of course, joint pain, including back pain. A sluggish, toxic colon, (constipation) can result in toxicity in the rest of the body, stress on liver and kidneys as they struggle to detoxify the body, fatigue, irritability, depression and musculoskeletal aches and pains, including back pain. Weak liver and/or kidneys can result in poor appetite, nausea, general muscular weakness, fatigue, anger, depression, and pain, including low back pain. Hormonal imbalances, such as PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) or menopause can result in fatigue, moodiness, brain fog, and back pain. Osteoporosis can result in spinal compression fractures, which are extremely painful. The unfortunate person who develops spinal cancer or another cancer which metastasizes to the spine can eventually develop severe low back pain. And there are also many other diseases and imbalances that can result in low back discomfort. A couple of these problems can often be addressed on your own, i.e. constipation and PMS, but most may require professional diagnostics and therapy of some sort. Thyroid imbalances will often require some general detoxification, stress reduction, sufficient sleep, excellent nutrition, and often some thyroid supportive nutritional supplements and/or medication. Chiropractic adjusting, Massage and Acupuncture can also help address thyroid dysfunction, as can regular Yoga practice, improved posture and regular, fairly gentle exercise. It is important to monitor thyroid function with blood work and adjust medications and supplements accordingly, since either hyper or hypo-thyroid, as well as auto-immune thyroid conditions can result in excessive bone thinning and even spinal compression fractures.
5. Emotional and mental stress. Even if a person is reasonably physically healthy, stress can result in insomnia, muscle tension, poor appetite, deteriorating posture, and eventually - you guessed it – low back pain. All the internal organs can be adversely affected by prolonged stress. Liver and pancreas, imbalances may result in blood sugar abnormalities; the heart and lungs issues, could result in conditions such as asthma and angina or even congestive heart failure, and problems of the kidneys and adrenal glands can lead to fatigue and sleep disturbance. The adrenal glands secrete cortisol, which, in the short run, helps a person deal with stress by controlling inflammation and supporting a burst of energy. Prolonged secretion results in adrenal exhaustion, which can lead to hypertension, inflammation, physical pain, increased tendency for accidents, brain fog, weight gain, and even suppressed immune function. Some types of stress can be managed. You may be able to leave a destructive relationship, choose to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, improve your nutrition, reduce or eliminate unhealthy habits, such as cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption. You also may choose to engage in regular, non-stressful exercise, such as walking, gardening, Yoga, Tai Chi, light strength training and Pilates. Pulling back from social media and reading inspirational books, listening to soothing, uplifting music, and spending time in Nature can also be helpful. Sometimes a situation is not completely resolvable, such as unemployment or poor health due to a pandemic, injury from disease or shots and medications, exposure to environmental pollution, living in war-torn cities, facing food shortages and poverty. Sometimes having a good friend with whom to talk will be helpful, as may seeing a therapist or counselor. Sometimes a specific support group can help, such as AA (alcoholics anonymous) or even a church organization. And if it is possible to volunteer to help others or the environment, that often can be helpful. Sometimes, body work, such as Chiropractic, Massage and Acupuncture, and energy work, such as Reiki and sound healing are effective in inducing relaxation.
So back pain, including low back pain, can have complex roots and varied treatments. This blog’s offer: call or email me for an appointment or consultation to address your low back pain or just ask me about some of the concepts in this blog. Have a happy, safe, month, one that gets better and better each day.