Back pain will affect up to 80% of the population. It can build up for a long time and can take a long time to get rid of. The information available on how to treat back pain can be confusing and contradictory at best.
I am a chiropractor and I specialize in muscles and trigger point therapy. I treat back pain every day. I look at my job as not only getting people out of pain, but showing them how to manage their back pain and how to stay out of pain.
Many people who come to my office are looking for a quick fix for their back pain. They are sorely disappointed when they find out that it will take at least 1 to 2 months to get rid of their back pain. Even if it may have come on suddenly, most back pain has been building up for months, if not years, before flairing up.
Most low back pain is caused by the muscles in the hips slowly getting irritated over time until they tear and fall into a pattern of spasm and inflammation. Most low back pain can be avoided through exercise and stretching. Most low back pain can be reduced and healed quicker if ice and stretching is utilized.
Ice will decrease inflammation, and will numb an area. The reason why you take ibuprofen or any of the other anti-inflammatories is to reduce inflammation. Ice will do it naturally and will not cause side effects. Heat will increase the inflammation and cause the issue to linger, if not get worse. Use ice for 15-20 minutes at a time on the painful area, as many times as you can throughout the day. Do not ice for longer than that otherwise you will chance burning the skin.
Stretching will loosen up tight and irritated muscles and help them heal quicker. Just don’t over stretch. Take it to the point of feeling a stretch and hold it there. Do not bounce, do not push it, especially when in pain. If you do feel pain while stretching, then back off from the point of pain, and hold the stretch there.
After low back pain is resolved, it is essential to strengthen up the core muscles. The core muscles are all of the muscles from the bottom of your ribs down to the bottom of your pelvis. Strengthening these up will provide stability to the low back and hips, and will prevent other flair ups from occurring.
Once you have low back pain, it is important to realize that you will have it again in your lifetime. There will be a direct correlation between the shape you keep your body in, and the flair ups you have. The worse shape you are in, the more frequent and severe the flair ups will be. The stronger and looser you keep your core muscles, the less frequently the low back will flair up.
Once your back flairs up, medications have little to offer. Anti-inflammatories can reduce the pain and inflammation. A steroid dose pack can help to break up the neurological cycle of back pain and help speed healing.
I would avoid injection therapies such as cortisone and epidurals. Cortisone may or may not work, it may take a series of 3 shots to make a difference. Cortisone will cause the joint to further break down and degenerate, thus increasing arthritis or bringing it on sooner than it would come on otherwise. I recently read a review of studies on injection therapies, and it concluded that injections are not effective for treating back pain, and actually can cause the issue to progress.
I am biased, and feel that chiropractic care, especially chiropractic trigger point therapy and muscle work, are extremely effective in treating back pain. Chiropractic care can calm down spasmed and inflamed muscles. Chiropractic care can restore range of motion. Chiropractic care can help back pain heal quickly.
I feel that surgery is sometimes necessary, but should be used as a last resort. Just by opening up the back, damage is being done to your back. Back surgery is successful 50% of time. 50% of people who have had back surgery are no better off, or worse off, after a surgery. Many times if the first surgery doesn’t work, then the surgeon will want to do another surgery. This can lead to a long string of surgeries.
Whatever the type of treatment you choose for your back pain, have patience. It will take time to get your back to calm down. If you don’t take care of yourself, then it will take longer to calm down, and in the future the flair ups will be more frequent and more intense and debilitating.
Take care of yourself now, and prevent back pain. The best way to avoid back pain in the future is not to get it at all presently. It is easier to prevent a fire, than it is to put one out. Prevent a back fire by exercising, stretching, and eating right presently.
The Pain Free Lifestyle program takes the guess work out of managing your body. It is an exercise and nutrition system that takes you step by step from not being in shape at all and not taking care of yourself, to getting into shape and managing health issues, and reducing and even preventing pain.
Manage your pain, and prevent pain from coming up in the first place, through eating right and proper exercise and stretching. It is the Pain Free Way.
Here is a slide show that talks about a few different ways to treat and prevent back pain: