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Everything You Need To Know About Lower Back Pain

Here is a compilation of the information on lower back pain you can find on our blog, in the following manner:

  1. Causes
  2. Treatment/ Remedies

Causes

Trigger Points

A trigger point is a tight area within muscle tissue that causes pain in other parts of the body. For example, a trigger point in the back may produce a pain in the neck, which might in turn, cause headache. The trigger points on our body can be stimulated by slightly massaging or pressing them to relax aching muscles and reduce the tension that is built up over time.

Scoliosis

Deep Spinal Muscles run along your spine to support it. These muscles could be disproportionate due to the shape of your spine. Scoliosis is a condition where the spine is curved either in a C or S shape, and affects about 4% of the population. Though everyone’s spine is curved to some extents, it is only considered scoliosis if the angle of the curve is 10 degrees or more. 

There are two types of scoliosis – structural and non-structural. Structural scoliosis can be caused by inflammation such as appendicitis, which can be cured by treatment. On the other hand, non-structural scoliosis usually develops when the patient is between 10 to 15 years old, if it is undetected at birth. In some cases scoliosis is a symptom of medical conditions e.g. genetic disorders like Marfan Syndrome. However, about 80% of scoliosis cases are idiopathic, meaning there is no known cause.

Fortunately, 90% of scoliosis cases are mild and do not require major treatment. A back brace would do if the patient is a child, as the spine is still growing. Those with severe curves of greater that 50 degrees would require surgery to prevent deterioration and to ease the discomfort. 

Pregnancy

Back pain during pregnancy can be due to a myriad of factors:

  • Hormonal changes: Due to hormone changes during pregnancy, the ligaments in the pelvic area grow softer and joints become looser to prepare the body for birthing. These transitions weaken the support for your back even in daily activities.
  • Additional weight: Weight gain creates additional weight that your back needs to support.
  • Stress: Having a baby is a life-changing experience, and this can result in additional stress for the new mother. When stress is accumulated in weaker areas in the body, you may experience increased back pain.

Breasts

Women with larger breasts may experience greater strain in the neck, shoulders and back area. Thus, the bras that we wear have direct impact on our physical well-being. When choosing and buying bras, there are two main things to look out for:

Fitting

Allow the retail assistant to measure you in order to recommend you the best fit. While we may have a “standard” size, different brands may have slight variations in the sizes of their bras. You should not be seeing:

Support

There are 4 features of a bra that provide support:

  • Underwire Channel (and underwire) – gives the best shape and definition to a bustline. It is also a personal preference, some women do not like bras with underwire.
  • Band – designed and engineered to carry the weight and thrust of your breasts
  • Center Back Eyes/ Hooks – a good fit bra will be worn comfortably on the first (loosest) eyes
  • Strap – meant to act as stabilizers for the bra and should carry no more than 10% of the breast’s weight

Treatment/ Remedies

Chiropractic

Chiropractic is a form of alternative medicine that aims to get to the root cause of the problem, and ideally remove that root cause. It focuses on the relationship between the spine and nerves, and aims to restore and maintain health and function of the body as a whole. Chiropractors are specialists who believe in care of the spine, nerves, muscles, and connective tissues.

This is done so through adjustments made to the spine, and at other necessary areas such as the ankle, knee or wrist. A typical chiropractic adjustment makes use of controlled force, leverage, direction, amplitude, and velocity directed at specific joints. Adjustments are often accompanied by non-manual therapies. These can include application of heat or ice, electrical stimulation, orthotic support for your shoes, rehabilitative exercise, counselling on lifestyle factors and nutritional supplements.

Benefits

Stress relief

When the nervous system is misaligned, the body reacts in a way that cause mental and physical stress. Once the body is realigned and balanced, the body will immediately be less tensed, and this sends a message telling your brain that you are relaxed.

Improves mood

As the body is more relaxed, the immune system is stronger and less susceptible to germs and viruses. People who are suffering from chemical imbalances, such as depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), can improve their mood and lifestyle with regular adjustments.

Strengthens body 

Chiropractic adjustments heals and aligns nerves. These nerves can affect 60% of the body, from digestive to circulatory system. If the vertebrae is misaligned, the nerves can cause more acid production, leading to gas, heartburn and acid reflux. Moreover, if nerves around the upper neck are misaligned, this can lead to higher blood pressure, which can be easily lowered with chiropractic treatments. This manipulation is known as “atlas adjustments”, and can be as effective as double doses of blood pressure medications.

Healthier pregnancy

When a woman goes through pregnancy, her body goes through massive changes to adapt. These changes can impact the nervous system. Ligaments in the pelvic area are loosen to ease the delivery process. Weight gain can also lead to increased pressure on an expectant mother’s spine. Pregnant women who receive chiropractic treatments during their pregnancy experience 25% less time in labour.

Restores body to fullest potential

Chiropractic adjustments can restore function and movement in areas that are weaker. Such adjustments are able to coax the muscles around the stiff joints to relax. Overall, chiropractic sessions can allow the body to destress and this is beneficial for the mind and body.

Heals new and old trauma

Sometimes we think that we can just wait for the pain to subside, but in reality the pain is unbearable. For certain injuries, such as a light headache due to a bad sleep, it is possible to “sleep it off” and hope that it will be better the next day. However, for pain that you have been tolerating for months, even years, it is important to seek treatment. You can seek chiropractic treatment for a non-invasive way to reduce pain and regain strength faster.

 

Heat therapy

Heat therapy improves blood circulation, increasing the volume of oxygen and nutrients that reach the tissues. Simultaneously, It diminishes the amount of pain signals sent to the brain. You may use a heat patch, or take a hot shower to relieve yourself of the discomfort.

On the other hand, it is advised that pain points (like your back, shoulders, neck etc.) should not be addressed with cold therapy, i.e. icing, as it will only strain the muscles more.

Release endorphins

Endorphins are known to relieve pain, and reduce stress, anxiety and depression. In order to increase your endorphin level, you can consider exercising, meditation and massage therapy.

From day to day, try searching for reasons to laugh more; you can also indulge a tad more in dark chocolate, and spicy food if you have not already done so, and explore your favourite music genres.

Essential oils

Essential oils have therapeutic purposes and are therefore commonly used for massage. Aromatherapy induces analgesia, enabling your muscles to relax and eliminate your lower back pain. Some oils recommended for lower back pain are lavender, chamomile, peppermint and rosemary.

Drink water

We’re all aware of the many health benefits water brings. Adding on to those, hydration is key in keeping your intervertebral discs healthy. Intervertebral discs are essentially shock absorbers between the vertebrae in your spine. Drinking water also reduces stiffness and flush toxins out from your body.

Exercise

Working out regularly strengthens your muscles, and decreases your proclivity to back injuries. Exercises that strengthen hip, pelvic and abdominal muscles will be beneficial in developing back muscles over time and in boosting support for your upper body. Planking is an effective measure of doing so.

However, if you’re currently experiencing dire backache, you should wait for it to heal before performing strenuous movements. In the meantime, you can engage in yoga and stretches to accelerate the recovery process.

For pregnant women, walking, swimming and stationary cycling are safe and effective workouts. For instance, swimming strengthens abdominal and lower back muscles. Simultaneously, the water buoyancy takes some pressure off your joints and ligaments. On top of that, research shows that women who exercise three times a week for 12 weeks during the second half of pregnancy has a lower tendency to have lower back pain.

Lighten your load

Heavy bags throw on a copious weight onto your spine. Poorly designed bags can be detrimental to your back too, if they are carried for a prolonged period of time. It is critical to get a good quality bag that distributes weight evenly on your back and shoulders, especially if you’re pregnant.

Posture

Pregnant women

By being conscious of your posture, you can reduce backaches. One way you can make sure is to stand up straight. As the foetus develops, pregnant women tend to slump backward. However, do not exert yourself if you feel sore from standing. If needed, rest a foot on a low stool.

Also, you should always bend your knees when lifting something. If you need to carry heavy items or reach out for objects at a high altitude, do not be afraid to ask for help. And in the morning, to get out of bed, do the “bend and push” – bend your knees and hips as you roll to one side, then use your arms to push yourself up as you let your legs dangle over the side of the bed.

Working individuals

Using your elbows

Find a comfortable position that allows you to sit as close as you can to your desk with your spine being parallel to your upper arms. When you place your hands on the desk, your elbows should be at a right angle. If it is not, raise or lower the height of your chair accordingly!

Using your thighs

Test to see if you can slide your finger with ease between the edge of your chair and your thighs. If it’s too tight for you to do so, find an adjustable footrest to elevate your feet. If there is too much space between the chair and your thighs (i.e. more than your finger’s width), raise the height of your table so that you can raise your chair accordingly!

Using your calves

Next, place a clenched fist in between the chair and the back of your calf while still sitting down. If you have difficulties doing so, consider adjusting the backrest forward and even getting a new office chair to get the optimum angle for your back.

Get a lower back support

A firm cushion or other forms of lumbar support would help to ensure that your lower back is constantly at a slight arch such that you do not slouch, while at the same time minimising the load on your back.

Adjust your armrest

The perfect height for your armrest should be at a level that touches your elbows enough to just slightly lift your arms. This helps prevent lower back pain as well as neck & shoulder pains.

Resting eye level

While this doesn’t target the lower back pain you get from sitting too long, ensuring that your eyes are aimed at the center of your laptop screen minimises neck strain.

 

Standing desk

If you find yourself spending hours working at home, perhaps a standing desk might be a worthy investment to stop your lower back pain. This one from AIBI not only allows you to do your work in a standing position, it also lets you work out while working. (Talk about killing two birds with one stone!)

Right gear

Pregnant ladies tend to have weaker joints, so if you’re expecting, you should wear shoes that are low-heeled with good arch support to reduce the strain on your feet and legs.

If you’re pregnant, you can also consider getting a maternity belt. These belts provide robust support for your abdomen and your back. However, you should only wear maternity belts for a few hours each day, and should consult your gynaecologist on whether it is suitable for you and your baby.

Sleeping positions

On Your Back

Cited by doctors as the best sleeping position, sleeping on your back can help keep your head, neck, and back in a neutral position. (You can prop a pillow under your knees to help maintain a proper back alignment if you feel uncomfortable!) This sleeping position can also help fight acid reflux as it keeps your oesophagus over your stomach. However, if you’re someone with sleep apnea, this may not be the best sleeping position for you. This is because gravity forces the base of your tongue to collapse into your airway, making your condition and snoring much worse.

On Your Side

Sleeping on the side is great, especially on the left and if you are pregnant, because it facilitates smoother blood flow to your heart due to force of gravity. (Since your heart is on the left side.) For those with sleep apnea, this is the position for you. Sleeping on your left side can help relieve sleep apnea and snoring because it keeps your tongue and throat muscles in a neutral position; opening up airways for better breathing throughout the night. With regards to how it’s good for your neck and back, this position is practically perfect for your back as it goes with the natural curvature of your spine. However, it’s important to note not to bend your back too much, as that could end up being more detrimental than helpful to your back.

On Your Stomach

Stomach sleeping can definitely help in easing snoring and sleep apnea, but that’s about all the pros there is to sleeping in this position. When you sleep on your stomach, this not only causes your upper body to arch upwards, it also flattens your spine’s natural curves, causing lower back pain. Besides that, it is also terrible for your neck because it places a lot of weight and strain on your neck muscles. So, unless you plan on waking up with both a bad back and neck in the morning, you may want to skip this position at all costs.

Sitting Up/ Slightly Angled Up

This sleeping position is more effective for those who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, where air-flow is poor, or those who are more obese and need help breathing. It’s also good for when your nose and throat are congested. However, this position isn’t recommended because of the amount of strain it will cause from having both your back and neck arched for hours. It could also potentially lead to thrombosis, which is the formation of a blood clot in a blood vessel from sitting motionless with your limbs bent for hours.

We can’t always control the position in which we sleep in, especially in the middle of the night when we’re deep asleep. What we can do, is to take the effort to change the position in which we fall asleep in so as to train ourselves to switch to a better sleeping posture.

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