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Low back pain is becoming a present day epidemic. One big reason why back pain is on the rise, is because about thirty percent of the population sits for at least 10 hours per day. It seems as if everyone has had or knows someone who has battled low back pain. But why? What do they do about it? Do you have to go to the doctor? What kind of doctor? Are there ways to manage your own back pain? If so, what are they? What about drugs?Patients have all these concerns and more. In this article I will do my best to answer these questions as well as give you specific strategies to help manage your own pain.  I will then describe in detail three introductory exercises to help reduce the reoccurrence of these debilitating episodes.

Let’s get started with the first few questions.

  • What causes low back pain? Most often, low back pain is initiated by weakness or injury to supporting spinal structures. One way this can occur is due to prolonged sitting. Yes, I said sitting. Why is sitting so detrimental to your body? Sitting for prolonged periods of time, with or without poor posture causes increased pressure on the intervertebral discs (jelly-like padding between each vertebra). When these structures are stressed all day long, 4-5 days a week, they become weak and less supportive. This is when you are most prone to injuring your back. Now add poor posture to the equation, like most of us have while positioned at a desk. Sitting with your shoulders rolled forward, head and chin jutting forward, and a rounded low back creates tremendous stress on the structures of the back resulting in weak muscles. Stressed spinal structures along with weak supporting muscles day after day can lead to disaster. Bending over to tie your shoe isn’t what caused your back injury; it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.
  • What do you do about back pain? Well most people don’t know what to do when they have a low back attack. Usually they will take over the counter pain meds and “ride it out.” Yes, almost all pain will eventually go away but not having it treated or corrected early can result in multiple re-occurrences. Some sufferers try ice. Ice is a good option for initial treatment. Ice reduces swelling and inflammation, which can temporarily reduce pain but once again, it does not “fix” the problem.

Do you have to go to a doctor? No, but not addressing the problem immediately will increase your chances of having recurring low back pain. Now, what kind of doctor? Some possibilities include your primary care physician, a physical therapist, a chiropractor, an orthopedist, and the list goes on and on. A primary care physician can evaluate your condition and rule out any underlying causes of back pain such as kidney stones/infection, abdominal aortic aneurysm, and pancreatitis. A physical therapist will focus more on functional mobility and work with you on stretches and exercises to increase motion but will need a diagnosis and referral from a primary care physician. And of course having a chiropractic evaluation and care is another way to help manage low back pain and keep it from reoccurring.

  • What can you do for yourself? Yes, you can take over-the-counter pain medications and yes, it may be a good option to get you through church, but this will only help reduce the pain and inflammation temporarily. It may not be the best option for getting you through a whole softball season.  Over-the-counter drugs only mask the pain rather than fixing it, which gives you a high chance of the pain reoccurring.

In the next section of this article I will discuss some daily habits and sparing strategies for the self-management of low back pain. Topics will include:

I will also teach you three active exercises for the prevention of back pain.

I hope this information was of value to you. Please check back for the continuation of this article so you can learn how to properly care for your back!

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