I had been suffering from lower back pain in the right side for several years. My doctor would tell me it was muscular and I did not believe it. It was the right side for a couple of years and then, surprisingly, the left side started as well.
I am not a doctor so the information here is totally based on my personal experience and is derived from what I found from various sources for the last few years.
My conclusion is that there is not a single reason for the pain in the back. There are many reasons and there are many types of lower back pain. The muscular back pain, however, is the most common and the most misunderstood type of pain in the lower back.
What causes and which type of tip helps entirely depends upon individual cases. What works for one may or may not work for others. In this post I will enumerate and expand on some of the most useful and practical steps that may help you manage your back pain.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders says that the lower back muscular pain is one of the most common causes of visits to doctors in the United States. Americans make a hole of $50 billion dollars in their pocket for the treatment of back pain in the lower area caused by muscle strains.
Muscle Strains and Sprains a Major Cause
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) Lumbar i.e. lower back muscles strain and sprains are the most common causes of lower back pain. As the back bears the strains because of its functions of bearing weight, movements, twisting and bending, it is more prone to strains and sprains.
AANS further states that the sprain on the lumbar is caused when ligaments are torn from their attachments. Ligaments are the tough band of tissues that hold bones together.
Another reason for lower back pain is that when muscle fibres are abnormally stretched and torn.
The wear and tear of both muscle fibre and ligaments is the result of either overuse or sudden injury.
It has also been observed that most people associate the lower back pain with slipped discs and other spinal problems. However, most people mistakenly take it to be disc related and the real cause is the wear, tear, strains and sprain of muscles.
Prevention and Treatment Tips
The following tips are related to either physical health or emotional issues. As I have mentioned in the beginning of the post that I am not a doctor, I will not mention any sort of medication or drugs related treatments.
Do crunches help prevent lower back pain? Some argue yes while other just say the opposite. Majority of health fitness expert believe that crunches make things worse. It creates an imbalance for the spine and contributes to the muscle pain at the lower back.
According to simpleback.com, crunches are the worst form of ab exercises. Crunches cause hyper activity and reinforce exactly the same ill effects as prolong sitting and overworking. Furthermore, crunches restrict the excursion of the diaphragm and weaken the pelvic floor.
My own personal experience says that crunches do not help. When I joined the local gym, I was enthusiastic to do as many crunches as I could. I started at 20 per session and continued up to 120 per day. Although, I significantly reduced my belly size and flattened its shape, but my back pain became worse. Initially, I thought it was because of using some of the machines, but as I reduced the the number of crunches it felt better. I do not do crunches anymore.
Core Stability Exercises
The core muscles are the muscles of the back, abdomen, buttocks and hips. Crunches focus only on the abdominal muscles, while core stability exercises focus on the overall strength of muscles that support the back.
After realising that crunches do not work, I shifted to core stability exercises. Overtime, I felt more active and energetic. There was also some improvement in the reduction of back pain, but it did not eliminate it. Also, the reduction was temporary and it returned after I abandoned the exercises after a while.
Correct Lifting and Moving techniques
Using correct techniques to lift and move things can prevent injuries to back muscles and hence avoid back pain.
Check out these 6 tips for learning the correct techniques to lift and move thins at Mayo Clinic.
Since my back pain started, I tried to learn some correct weight lifting techniques. These techniques may be useful generally and even help from possible injury, but it did not help me in my back ache at all.
There is a unanimous agreement among the medical experts that bad posture is the number one enemy of back pain. People who sit for longer hours without bothering to maintain correct posture give an open call to back pain. Supporting your lower back with a good support can help a lot to reduce the pressure on the lower part of the back.
It is extremely important to correct your posture especially if you are sitting or driving for long hours. My job is, most of the time, sitting in front of the computer for long hours and I have been doing it for the last 20 years.
When I sit with a bending position or a little bit leaning forward, I feel a lot of aches in the lower area of my back. I have a lumbar support in my office chair and another one in my car. It is certain that correct posture helps a lot, but it does not eradicate the existing problem.
News studies and research confirms that there is a link between smoking and lower back pain. Physicians from Johns Hopkins University followed participants for more than 50 years to find a relationship between smoking, hypertension, coronary heart disease and back pain. The researchers found that all the three were significantly associated with the development of back pain.
Mail Online reports that smokers are three times more likely to suffer back pain as compared to non-smokers.
Medical News Today also report that a study by researchers from North-western University in Evanston, IL found that people who smoke were much more likely to develop chronic back pain than those who did not smoke.
The National Health Service (NHS UK) says that smoking causes tissue damage in the back which results in back pain. Smokers also live unhealthier lifestyles as compared to non-smokers. This unhealthy lifestyle may also contribute to the development of pain in the lower back.
I was a chain smoker for almost 15 years. Now I am totally smoke free. How did I quit is another story. If you are interested to quit smoking and need some help, you may contact me here. Please make sure you put smoking in the subject line.
Although, quitting smoking has tons of benefits, my back pain started long after I actually quit smoking. Eh? Yes! But I am so happy to have stopped smoking. Life without smoking is great. I am free and enjoy many things which I could not when I was a smoker.
A factsheet of the American Obesity Association, 2002 says that people who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of lower back muscular pain due to those muscles strains.
I am 5 feet and 3 inches tall and currently weigh 145 pounds. I was weighing 160 pounds before I started the weight loss regime. I lost 15 pounds easily following Dr. Charles Livingston’s Fat Loss Factor Program. The program is amazing and I got tons of other benefits. I highly recommend you checkout the program here.
I did not see any difference in the pain with losing weight. Maybe, I was not too much overweight!
Stress levels have been associated with back pain. Psychological and emotional factors can primarily cause symptoms of pain such as in the lower back.
Anxiety creates tension in the muscle which in turn increases pain. Massage therapists report that those clients who suffer from anxiety have knots in the muscles. The knots are more common in muscles supporting the back and shoulders.
Dr John E. Sarno wrote several books regarding the relation of stress and back pain. Sarno believes that the overwhelming majority of back pain sufferers have back pain because of stress, anger or anxiety rather than any physical illness. Dr Sarno calls this condition Tension Myositis Syndrome or TMS for short. Dr E. Sarno firmly believes that most emotionally induced pain is the cause of emotional and psychological issues which is often mistakenly blamed for structural abnormalities.
People who are apparently stress free or have no anxiety or anger issues, may also have back problems due to emotional reasons. Sarno believes that people may have consciously forgotten about their anger, anxiety or stress or an emotional episode that may have occurred in their lives. The feeling might have been buried deep in the sub-conscious part of the mind. In order to divert our attention from such feelings, the brain sends signals of pain and targets the areas such as lower back, upper back, neck or shoulders.
Dr John Sarno’s book called Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection is amazing with revealing information. Click here to grab this amazing book.
After I read Sarno’s book, I felt it convincing and started using his techniques. I found an overwhelming response to his techniques and hundreds of people testified that it worked. Since then, I feel significantly better. However, it is too early to pass any definite judgement regarding my case.