Do you find that your lower back is a source of constant discomfort throughout the day? Do you find yourself rubbing your lower back or reaching back with a hand and providing counter pressure to the area that hurts? For some, your back pain may be so severe, you find yourself unable to go to work and sit in your chair.
Unfortunately, lower back pain plagues 70 to 80 percent of men and women today. The causes range from pulled muscles to bulging discs and everything in between. Being able to recognize the type of lower back pain you suffer from may give you a clue as to how to alleviate it.
Muscle spasm – The Cleveland Clinic defines a muscle spasm as a muscle that involuntarily contracts and cannot relax. Often, the muscle feels harder than usual, and you may even be able to see a visible difference in it. A spasm can last anywhere from a few seconds to 15 minutes or more. What’s the cause? Usually, the spasm is a result of working out in high temperatures, not getting enough to drink, not stretching the muscles properly before a workout, muscle fatigue, or an electrolyte imbalance.
Pinched nerve – A nerve that gets pinched in the lower back often affects the legs. According to the Mayo Clinic, you may notice pain that radiates down the back of your leg. Other symptoms include a numbness or decrease in sensation, tingling like pins and needles in the affected leg, muscle weakness, or the feeling that the leg is falling asleep. The cause of the pinched nerve may be a herniated disk.
Sciatica – Sciatica is marked by pain radiating down one side of the lower back, through the buttocks and upper thigh, and possibly reaching as far as the calf. The pain may be a mild burning sensation to extreme pain that feels like electric jolts shooting through the back and leg. The Mayo Clinic says that this type of nerve pain is really a lower back problem caused by a portion of the spine compressing the sciatic nerve.
Bulging disc – The pain created by a bulging disc differs from the above types of pain. According to WebMD, you will notice that the pain from a bulging disc radiates from the lower back to the hips, thighs, and, possibly, calves. The pain will worsen with activity but lessen when you rest. Sitting, sneezing, and coughing will also aggravate the disc, making the pain worse.
If you suffer from lower back pain, here are few tips to try to help alleviate your discomfort.
- Before, during and after working out, especially if it’s hot out, drink plenty of fluids. If you’ve done a lot of sweating, try drinking some Gatorade or another sports drink that has electrolytes.
- Always begin and end your workout by stretching. Gradually warm up the muscles. The chances of you having a muscle spasm or pulling a muscle greatly increases when you don’t take the time to properly warm up.
- Sit up straight. Good posture is important. Slouching and slumping in your chair at work or while you’re standing puts unnecessary pressure on the lower back and creates a good environment for a pinched nerve.
- Walk and stand. Whenever you get the chance, stand up and stretch. Try having a walking meeting at work, take a walk at lunch, or invest in a desk that allows you to stand while you work.
- Apply ice and heat. Find out which feels best and use it on your lower back. WebMD shares that heat often works better on lower back pain, but you might find ice is what you need. A soak in a hot tub can help relax tight muscles, soothing the soreness away.
If you discover that your pain is constant or to the level of not being able to function, see the specialists at Atlanta Brain and Spine Care. They will diagnose the cause of the pain and come up with a plan to alleviate it, getting you back on your feet.