You may have bent the wrong way while lifting something heavy, or may have a degenerative condition i.e. arthritis. Whatever the reason, you're experiencing low back pain (LBP) it can be difficult to overcome. 1 in 4 Americans will say they've recently had LBP. We can all say we've had it or will have LBP sometime during our lifetime.
If the pain becomes chronic or lasts for 3 months or more, or you are experiencing numbness, weakness or tingling in your legs, your condition could be serious. In this case, always contact your physician. But for routine or mild low back pain, here are a few easy tips to try at home to relieve discomfort.
#1 Chill it. Ice is best in the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury to reduce inflammation. After 48 hours, it's okay to switch to heat if you prefer. Whether using heat or ice -- take it off after about 20 minutes to give your skin a rest. If your pain continues, call your physician.
#2 Keep moving. We are meant to move. Continue your daily activities i.e. light housework, going to work, walking the dog. Once you're feeling better, return to your regular cardio exercise routine exercises i.e. swimming, bicycling, and walking. The key is not to over do, but gently work back into your regular activities slowly and carefully.
#3 Stay strong. LBP can return. It's important to support your lower back when lifting or exerting your back more than usual. Proper posture will help to align your spine. Talk with your doctor to determine the right exercises for you that will strengthen the muscles and support your abdomen and low back. Avoid exercises that add additional strain to your low back like abdominal crunches.
#4 Stretch. If you have an office job, make sure you get up from your desk every 20 minutes or so to move around and gently stretch your neck, back and legs. Remember Proper Posture!
#5 Think ergonomically. Insure your desk and computer are properly positioned so you don't have to hunch forward to see your computer monitor or extend too far for your mouse. Your desk chair should support your lower back and be the proper height so your feet can fully touch the floor.
#6 Watch your posture. Poor posture adds additional pressure on your low back. Pay close attention to your posture when lifting heavy objects and never bend from the waist. Use your legs and bend from your knees.
#7 Wear low heels. Shoes with heels less than 1 inch allow for proper and stable posture. This will help to reduce the pressure and stress on your low back.
#8 Stop Smoking. Smoking causes a myriad of health issues including osteoporosis which can lead to a brittle bones making your spine more susceptible to compression fractures. Research shows that smokers are more likely to have LBP as compared to nonsmokers.
#9 Maintain Proper Weight. Excess weight adds additional stress to your spine. Determine your healthy weight and take measures to manage your caloric intake, eat a healthy diet and exercise.
#10 Try an OTC Pain Reliever. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin), and naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn) can help reduce back pain. Acetaminophen(Actamin, Panadol, Tylenol) is another over-the-counter option for pain management. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist about any interactions over-the-counter pain relievers may have with other medications you are taking. People with a history of certain medical conditions (such as ulcers, kidney disease, and liver disease) should avoid some medicines.