What can I do to relieve my lower back pain?
Symptoms of lower back pain can range from a dull ache to sharp, intense discomfort. For some, this may be a short-term problem caused by moving the body in a particular way so as to cause injury. Others may find they experience the issue long term.
For more information on lower back pain, let's look at the causes and what to do to manage symptoms.
Causes of lower back pain
Lower back pain can have many causes. One of the most obvious is injury, perhaps during a sporting activity or when doing a spot of DIY around the house. Other than this, lower back pain may be experienced by women during their period, plus it is a symptom of arthritis.
Office workers are also particularly prone to back pain and, as many people are now working from home in circumstances that aren't ideal, the likelihood of developing problems is even higher. Perhaps your bed is now a makeshift desk chair or your low kitchen table is now your desk. As neither of these set-ups provide proper support, the result is likely to be lower back pain (not to mention the other aches and pains that can result from a poor working environment, such as neck and eye strain!).
Other workers that may be prone to lower back pain include those doing lots of heavy lifting. If the body is twisted or bent whilst lifting an object, it may damage the ligaments or discs that sit between vertebrae in the spine. Also, heavy lifting puts a lot of strain on the muscles in the back, particularly if good posture isn't maintained, which may cause problems to develop over time.
When lifting heavy objects, it is best to bend the knees and keep the back as straight as possible. This means the back doesn't have to bear too much weight and instead the leg muscles take the load.
Managing your back pain
If you don't sort out lower back problems, you can end up with more serious problems like sciatica later on down the line. Yikes! Plus, any pain in the body is going to interfere with day-to-day life so it's something you should aim to get on top of 'asap'! So, here is my advice.
Give natural remedies a try
One herb that is thought to be especially good if you have lower back pain is Devil's Claw, a plant native to South Africa that gets its name from the hook-like shape of the fruit it produces.
Devil's Claw extract has been shown to be helpful in easing chronic lower back pain, as well as pain caused by osteoarthritis and more general joint pains.2
Well, water that is, rather than some other popular options like Coke or a wee Americano!
Dehydration may add to lower back pain, so drinking a little more could help make you feel better.
When filling up your water bottle, add a little hot water from the kettle. This makes water more palatable during the colder winter months; plus, cold water can make the kidneys uncomfortable, which feels like back pain.
Jazz up water with any number of herbs and fruits. In the winter months, why not make the most of seasonal fruits like cranberries, clementine, grapefruit, apple and pear? When it comes to herbs, mint, lemon balm and rosemary make tasty additions. Rosemary, in particular, is a good option as research has shown it has anti-inflammatory benefits.3 You could steep this herb in a little hot water before adding it to your drink for an even more interesting taste!
Re-vamp your workspace
Make yourself comfier at work by spending a little time evaluating your workspace. But don't worry, you don't need any fancy equipment or expensive technology to make this happen! Here's what I suggest...
- Set your computer screen at eye level, using books or an old cardboard box to create height.
- Give your lower back more support by putting a cushion behind you.
- Ensure your legs are positioned at a right angle with your feet flat on the ground. If your feet don't touch the ground, use a box to create a makeshift footrest.
- Use a wrist rest at your keyboard and mouse.
And remember, it's your company's duty to make sure you have everything you need to work comfortably and productively from home so, if something isn't right in your set-up, speak to your employers about it!
Did you know that poor sleep may have an influence on your lower back pain?
Recent research has found that preventing or reducing sleep problems in people with chronic lower back pain may improve the long-term prognosis of this condition. In effect, sleep problems reduce the likelihood of recovery from lower back pain so it's something we need to tackle head-on.4
For a little further reading on how to deal with sleep issues, I recommend checking out my colleague Sarah's blog on '6 tricks to help your fall asleep more easily'.
Keep moving as much as possible
Lower back pain may reduce mobility but the key is not to stop moving as this will only make the problem worse in the long term. So, when your joints get creaky, stiff and sore, it's time to assess your activity levels – don't stop, but maybe change your focus and find something that keeps you active without putting the same strains on your body.
I suggest following some Yoga videos on YouTube that focus specifically on lower back pain, as this will avoid putting the area under too much pressure. Once you know a few stretches, you can then incorporate them into your day whenever you are feeling a little bit tight or uncomfortable. This should help to loosen up the body and ease tension.
Seek professional help
And remember! If your back pain is persistent, please seek the advice of your doctor in order to get a diagnosis and, therefore, the most appropriate treatment for you.