What to do if your back and lower back hurt?

back pain symptoms

If we leave aside obvious causes such as injuries, muscle strains or hypothermia, back pain in adults is most often associated with degenerative changes in the structure of the intervertebral joints and the vertebral bodies themselves.

This process has different names in different countries, but the essence does not change: with age, due to metabolic disorders, as well as asymmetric or excessive loads, the cartilage, which lies between the vertebrae and ensures their mobility, becomes thinner and thicker . This leads to microtrauma and inflammation of the intervertebral joints and surrounding tissues.

Inflammation can be quickly extinguished with the help of medications, but cartilage regeneration is a long process: cartilage wears out faster than it is restored. Therefore, having arisen once, pain in the spine, as a rule, returns periodically.

What to do: get an MRI and see a neurologist, break your bones with a chiropractor, take pills or turn to alternative medicine?

First of all, consult a neurologist!

This is where you should start when your back hurts for the first time. The doctor must exclude all truly dangerous causes of pain, for example, a compression fracture (sometimes it happens unnoticed), spinal tuberculosis or a tumor.

Most likely, the doctor will limit himself to a simple examination and prescribe treatment for 3-5 days, and then give recommendations for lifestyle correction. In the future, if the pain reappears, you will be able to deal with it on your own.

Having an MRI of your spine on your own is a waste of time and money. In most cases, the results of the study will not affect the choice of treatment, tactics and prognosis, and therefore your well-being.

You definitely need to see a neurologist: if the back pain is accompanied by weakness in the leg, arm, if there are problems with the sensitivity of the body below the painful point (numbness, crawling, tingling) or if the functions of the pelvic organs are impaired (problems with urination, erection, etc. . ). In these cases, more in-depth analysis will be necessary.

Enduring pain is harmful

The pain causes muscle spasms, which increases pressure on spinal nerves and joint pain receptors, and limits movement. To recover faster, you need to break this chain.

Therefore, in case of severe pain, bed rest is indicated for the first 1-3 days. Everyone chooses for themselves the position in which the pain is minimal, but most often it helps to lie on your back, on a hard base with a pillow under your knees and lower back, with your head resting on a low pillow. Sometimes it's easier in the fetal position: on your side, with your back rounded and a pillow between your bent knees.

Medications include pain relievers and anti-inflammatories for 3-5 days. As a rule, after 1 injection it gets much better. You can also take these medicines in tablets: the strength of action will not change, but the effect will come later.

Vitamins B1, B6, B12 are indicated together with analgesics. They help to cope with pain, inflammation and improve the metabolism of nervous tissue.

A neurologist or therapist may prescribe muscle relaxants. They help relax the muscles of the spine, reduce pressure on the source of inflammation and pain, but they can have serious side effects, so it is best not to take them without specialist advice.

If everything is done correctly, the pain should subside within 3-5 days. The future fate of your back is in your hands. How much your quality of life will change now depends not on the qualifications of the attending physician, but on whether you are ready to properly work on your muscles and joints!

How to move?

There is a rule developed by natural selection: avoid pain, thereby protecting the damaged part of the body from destruction. But back pain is an exception.

During a week of bed rest, you can lose up to 20-30% of muscle strength, and this significantly reduces the chances of full recovery in the future.

Why train muscles?

Firstly,Strong back and abdominal muscles are able to take on most of the load when absorbing movement, as well as stabilizing the spine in the correct position - so the intervertebral joints assume the ideal configuration and experience less wear and pain. It has been proven that people with poorly developed muscles suffer more often from chronic back pain.

In second place,training the back muscles increases the bone density of the vertebrae. This is an excellent prevention of osteoporosis and compression fractures, which is especially important for women over 45 years old. And when moving, joint lubrication is produced, blood circulation improves and cartilage regeneration processes are faster.

Third,Adequate physical activity makes the ligaments that hold the vertebrae together stronger. This is an important element in preventing chronic back pain in people with joint hypermobility: those who can reach from the thumb of the hand to the bones of the forearm of the same hand or can hyperextend their arms at the elbows and knees.

Therefore, the best prevention of back pain is movement, but the right movement!

Three rules of physical therapy

The ideal option is to undergo a physiotherapy complex under the supervision of an instructor: physiotherapist, kinesiotherapist, neurologist or chiropractor. Once you learn the technique, you can practice on your own, without the help of experts.

It is important to follow three rules, without which no exercise will work!

  1. Exercise should become a daily habit and not a firefighting measure. Choose 4-5 exercises for flexibility and coordination of movements that can be performed 15-20 minutes after waking up every day. According to statistics, the people who suffer most from back pain are "weekend athletes" – people who do not have time to play sports during the week and only have the opportunity to make up for lost time on the weekends.
  2. The second part of the activity is a set of strength exercises. They aim to strengthen the muscles of the back, abdomen, arms, legs and stabilize the spine, which is why they should gradually become more complex. If you finish a workout without feeling tired, you've wasted time: muscles that don't get tired don't develop. Strength training takes longer, but it also provides a longer-lasting effect. So just set aside 1 hour for them 2-3 times a week. If you have diseases of the cardiovascular system and lungs, it is important that the exercise intensity is controlled by a physiotherapist, at least in the initial phase.
  3. The biomechanics of the spine are very complex. Therefore, there are no universal exercises to correct all types of pain. A good specialist will immediately narrow down the choice. But if you practice alone, be guided by your feelings. Training should gradually increase range of motion without back pain. If this does not happen, or the pain, on the contrary, intensifies, then you are doing something wrong.

An approximate set of exercises for acute, subacute periods and remission - when the back practically does not bother, can be downloaded on the Internet.

Will you have to give up sports?

It is advisable to replace some types of activities with similar ones. For example, instead of running on rough terrain, it is better to try a treadmill; Instead of a road bike, try an exercise bike.

It is advisable to initially avoid exercises with pure suspension from the bar, replacing them with exercises with support for the back or legs. Exercises with dumbbells or barbells are performed in the supine or prone position, without vertical loads.

Practicing sports associated with jumping and sudden twisting movements can provoke a painful attack: volleyball, basketball, football, tennis, dancing. But that doesn't mean it's time to give up your favorite activity. To get back in shape, you first need to properly exercise your back and abdominal muscles under the guidance of a doctor and choose shoes with good cushioning. And of course, before any activity you need to warm up properly.

For most people, the ideal sport for back pain is swimming, in addition to water aerobics. However, some people with spinal joint instability may experience increased lower back pain after swimming. In this case, you need to start with a dry workout to strengthen your core muscles.

The main causes of chronic back pain are excess weight, stress and poor posture. An active lifestyle allows you to solve all three problems at once.

How to check your posture?

The spine has 4 curves - 2 forward and 2 backward. Normally, they are balanced and soften the vertical load on the vertebrae when walking and other movements. If you slouch excessively or overextend your lower back, your body weight will be distributed incorrectly and the load on the individual vertebrae will become prohibitive.

For example, if you tilt your head forward and round your back – the standard posture of an office worker – the tension in the joints in your neck and upper thoracic spine increases 6 times.

To check your posture, stand with your back to the wall. Normally, the back of the head, shoulder blades, buttocks, hips and heels should touch the wall. In the lower back, the fist should pass easily between the wall and the back, flat.

Sit up straight with your lower back supported. You can place a small pillow or a folded sweater on your lower back. To get rid of the habit of crossing your legs, try placing a low stool or a box of office equipment under your feet. Try changing your body position more often, periodically walk around the office, stretching your muscles to relieve tension. For example, as in thematic videos on the Internet.

How not to try too hard?

Follow safety precautions if you need to take something somewhere.

Calculate your movements and order of actions in advance. Can you use surrounding objects for support? Where should the cargo be transported?

Assume the pose: slightly bend your knees and hips, but do not lean forward. Contract your abdominal muscles to protect your pelvic organs. When lifting something heavy, your legs should work, not your back.

Hold the weight at your waist or chest, with the heavy end facing you.

If you need to turn around, stand up straight, but don't lean to the side or twist your spine.

Keep your head straight. When picking up a load, look ahead and not at it.

Know your limits! There's a big difference between what you can lift and what you can lift without putting your health at risk. If in doubt, ask someone to help you.

Don't pull. . . If you need to move a heavy object across the floor, it's better to push it than drag it behind you.

Distribute your weight evenly. When carrying shopping bags or luggage, try to carry equal weights in each hand.

What else will help heal your back?

Physiotherapy, acupuncture (reflexology), different types of massages, manual therapy and even the use of antidepressants are very effective methods used in the treatment of different types of chronic back pain around the world. The mechanism of their action is simple: they relieve muscle tension, improve blood circulation and metabolic processes in tissues, correct the biomechanics of movement.

These methods work in the hands of an expert and can be useless and even harmful in the hands of a charlatan. Therefore, always pay attention to the reputation of the clinic and the reviews of the doctor you are contacting.

And most importantly, all these types of treatment have only auxiliary value. The main thing is correct posture, daily muscle work, proper nutrition and careful use of the spine.

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