Welcome back Guys and Gals to part two of the lower back pain series.
Lower back pain affects every one of us at least once in our lifetime. Some of us are significantly affected by lower back pain that we miss out on activities with friends and family or take time off work due to pain.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) highlights that musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain were a cause for absenteeism in 2018 alongside other illness such as colds, physical injuries and mental health conditions. 71,300 instances of absence due to musculoskeletal conditions like back pain were reported and this figure in hours is significantly higher (ONS, 2019).
Guys and Gals, I am here to help you manage lower back pain, so you are no longer held back from all the things you enjoy doing. Lower back pain should not hold you back from joining your local football team or walking group. You do not have to cancel your ski trip next year. Yes, you can play sport with your friends, spend time with your children or grandchildren without worrying about your back getting in the way.
I have put together a few successful ways to manage lower back pain. There is an option here for everyone!
Painkillers and anti-inflammatories
Many people I see in clinic say that they are not keen on taking painkillers because they worry that medication masks pain and does not treat the root cause. Guys and Gals, it is fine to take over the counter painkillers for lower back pain. They are well tolerated by most people, reduce pain and allow you to continue your activities with minimal disruption from your back.
When taking anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen, it is important to discuss the duration of taking the medication with a healthcare professional as long-term use can be harsh on your gut. Doctors may prescribe medications like Omeprazole short term to protect your gut lining if planning on taking them regularly.
I understand that medication is not everyone’s cup of tea so if you are not keen on taking pills, read on for other ways to manage pain.
I recommend using a hot water bottle or wheat bag to apply heat to the painful area. Always wrap a hot water bottle in a towel or cloth. Never apply heat directly as it will overheat or burn the skin.
Heat works by dilating the blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the area. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients which help to heal tissue. It also helps to reduce joint stiffness leaving you feeling comfortable and mobile.
**Disclaimer –Contraindications to heat therapy include having a skin condition such as dermatitis, swelling and redness around the area, open wounds, peripheral vascular disease or deep vein thrombosis. Please discuss this with your doctor before using heat therapy**
Think of your body like a machine. If you don’t use it, it ceases up. Keep it moving Guys and Gals! Rest is not always best!
Evidence shows that exercise is the best way to manage lower back pain. It focuses on maintaining range of movement, strengthening muscles and reducing pain. Exercise options range from Pilates and Yoga to working out at the gym doing squats and deadlifts.
I have created a program of lower back exercises used frequently in clinic 1:1 sessions and in physiotherapy classes, for all abilities. Guys and Gals click on the link below to get access to the downloadable pdf document.
I recommend doing the exercises twice a day, every other day to allow your body to recover. In accordance with ACSM guidelines for strengthening work, aim for 3 sets of 10 for each exercise. If you find this difficult, start with 3 sets of 5 then gradually build up to 3 sets of 10.
You will hear me say this a lot … Your body will adapt to the demands placed on it and your back will begin to feel stronger over a few weeks if done gradually. With the right exercise prescription, you can increase the body’s tolerance to exercise.
Your physiotherapist may offer manual therapy in addition to other management options. This typically involves performing mobilisations e.g. passive accessory movements on your lower back. Whilst mobilisations can be effective in reducing pain by producing neurophysiological and mechanical effects, it is important to take part in an exercise program also as evidence shows that manual therapy has short term effects when compared to exercise as the main management option for lower back pain.
Office of National Statistics (2019). Number of occurrences of sickness absence, by reason, 2009 to 2018, UK. – Office for National Statistics. [online] Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/adhocs/10991numberofoccurrencesofsicknessabsencebyreason2009to2018uk [Accessed 31 Oct. 2020].