Low Back Pain - Treatment
Acute low back painIn most cases, acute low back pain will get better on its own within a few weeks or with physical therapy treatment to re-train certain muscles.
Painkillers and anti-inflammatories may be needed depending on what the doctor recommends.
It is important to remain as active as possible otherwise the back muscles will become weak and can lead to more pain and inactivity. Gentle stretches and exercises can also be of help.
Back pain can also be influenced by factors like lifestyle, overall fitness, job satisfaction, stress, depression, family situation, relationships etc.
Chronic low back painOne of the most important factors is low mood, often described as depression or distress. It is quite natural to feel low when experiencing persistent pain, but it is also known that this response gets in the way of recovery and re-engaging with life’s activities.
The doctor may recommend a talking therapy, or a management programme that includes counselling or psychology. This is because these treatments have been shown to help people and to teach them skills to control and manage their pain.
It is now known that, if there is a belief that moving may result in re-injury to their back, some patients sometimes restrict their movement and start avoiding certain activities. This is often referred to as fear-avoidance. While avoiding a specific movement that hurts may not be a problem, restricting many movements can result in isolation and depression as people avoid work, social and household activities. Some research says that these behaviours actually result in a worse physical state, as muscles that are not used can grow weak.
There is a vast amount of evidence suggesting that staying as active as possible is the best to not only reduce disability and improve function, but also to reduce depression and pain.
Muscle that is overworked builds up lactic acid. These tired muscles tend to be more painful and are more likely to become sprained (as they are stiffer). Stretching out spasmodic muscle is very important for muscle health. Heat or massage can often help the blood supply to painful muscle thus lowering the muscle tightness and lowering lactic acid. Sometimes muscle spasm can be so severe that a person is unable to move off the floor or bed and they can even fear that they are paralysed.
Frequently, in chronic back pain, chronic muscle spasm and fatigue can be a signal that there is an underlying subtle instability in the joints in the back. The aging process means that spinal joints wear with time which can lead to this. Again, rehabilitating the back muscles to overcome this is the best and safest way to ensure long-term spinal health.