Low Back Pain Overview
According to NIH, there are many risk factors associated with low back pain, including:
When to see a Clinician:
Some symptoms such as numbness or tingling in your legs, loss of bladder control, difficulty standing or walking, a sudden increase in pain, or pain lasting longer than a week may be indicators of something more serious and is a good idea to see a provider who specializes in low back pain, such as a chiropractor or physical therapist. Click here to find a provider in your area.
Low Back Pain Treatments
There are many paths to treatment for low back pain. Below are brief explanations of treatment options for acute and chronic low back pain.
Exercise Staying physically active and exercising regularly are the most important things that can be done for low back pain. Exercise helps our muscles relax and increases blood flow to the back area. Things that have been proven to help include exercises to strengthen the core muscles, as well as certain exercises used in pilates, tai chi and yoga. Click here to view extension exercises for young to middle-age individuals or click here to view extension exercises for elderly people.
Superficial heat is an effective remedy for low back pain because it boosts circulation. This allows nutrients and oxygen to travel to joints and muscles to help alleviate pain within your low back.
Non-OpioidsNon-opioid medications are recommended for moderate to severe back or neck pain, as they typically work better to resolve your low back pain and have fewer risks. Some over-the-counter medicines include Acetaminophen (Tylenol or generic) Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB or generic), Naproxen (Aleve or generic) topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and heat rubs. Other prescription drugs can include NSAIDS, anti-seizure drugs, gabapentin and antidepressants. Click here to learn more about non-opioids.
OpioidsOpioids (such as Oxycodone and Hydrocodone) are generally considered a short-term treatment following a severe injury, illness or surgery. Long-acting or extended release opioids are rarely appropriate for low back pain and should only be considered when all other options have been tried. Click here to learn more about opioids.
Steroid InjectionsCare for back and neck issues should focus on physical treatments first. Steroid injections should only be considered when physical treatments aren’t progressing as expected.
Click here to learn more about steroids.
Surgery should always be a last resort, especially if fusion is suggested.
Click here to learn more about surgery.
Below are brief explanations of different providers that can help with low back pain.
Chiropractors: A doctor of chiropractic, (sometimes referred to as DC’s) will focus on the relationship between body structure – mainly your spine – and how it’s functioning. Most chiropractors perform adjustments to your spine or other parts of your body to help alleviate pain, improve function and support your body’s natural ability to heal itself.
Physical therapists: Physical therapists (referred to as PT’s) are experts at muscle and body movement. They help optimize healing through hands-on care, prescribed exercises to rebuild strength and education. They’ll examine your individual issue and develop a plan using treatment techniques that help your ability to move, reduce pain, restore function and prevent disability.
Massage therapists: Massage therapists practice using touch – like pressing, rubbing or manipulating muscles – to pressure the soft tissues of the body to help relieve stress and feel better. There is scientific evidence that massage may help with back pain and improve quality of life for people with chronic conditions.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a technique in which practitioners stimulate specific points on the body – most often by inserting thin needles through the skin. It is one of the practices used in traditional Chinese medicine. Research suggests that acupuncture can help manage certain pain conditions.