Experiencing lower back pain? You’re not alone. As many as 80% of people will experience lower back pain at some point in their life, and it’s the most common cause of disability worldwide. In fact, about one-third of all Americans will experience a spinal injury at some point in their lives.  Its highly likely that you already know many people who have experienced. You may have also noticed that this type of injury doesn’t mean that they’re doomed to live with chronic discomfort forever — there are ways to recover!
Section 1: Understanding Lower Back Pain and Spinal Injury
Lower back pain and spinal injury can be debilitating. They can also be tricky to understand because we are not taught how to maintain spine hygiene as we grow up and go through different phases in our lives, which might as well mean going through different lifestyles. Needles to say that a vertebrae or disc injury will come with physical as well as emotional discomfort, as it forces us to stay still and hopefully to reconsider our lifestyle in order to prevent it from recurring.
Let’s take a look at some common causes of lower back pain:
- Poor posture or poorly executed exercises causing disc injury (including heavy weight lifting in poor form)
- Traumatic damage (fracture, tissue damage)
- Facet joint pathology
- An aging back (spine arthritis, stenosis)
Section 2: Going through the lower back pain crisis
- Rest: You should rest as much as possible, especially in the early stages of your recovery. Avoid prolonged sitting, you may try walking for small distances as long as they do not trigger pain.
- Medication: If your doctor prescribes medication for your pain relief, follow his or her directions carefully when taking them–especially if they’re opioids! Be aware that these drugs can be addictive; if possible avoid using them altogether by exploring alternative treatments such as acupuncture instead.
- Rehabilitation: In addition to resting, you should seek out rehabilitation services that can help you regain strength and mobility after being injured. These services may include physical therapy or massage therapy (or both).
- Cold and hot therapy: Depending on the cause of your pain, you may feel comfort when applying heat (muscle spasm) or cold (inflammation).
- Acupuncture: Another option is acupuncture; some people find this treatment helpful in reducing their discomfort.
- Chiropractic Care: If all else fails then consider seeing a chiropractor who specializes in treating low back pain caused by injuries like yours (the American Chiropractic Association has compiled an extensive list here).
Niki, 36 years old, mother of 2
‘’I injured by lower back at the gym during a cross-training session. At that moment it felt like a ‘’pop’’ which after 1-2 hours became excruciating lower back and sciatica pain on my right leg. After an MRI I found out that I had herniated my L5S1 disc and Neurosurgeon prescribed conservative treatment; medications, rest, walking. The pain stopped after approx. 7-8 weeks.
After a week or so I joined Reddit, I was trying to find as much as possible about it. It actually helped me find a community of people going through the same situation. I felt less alone during this unimaginable pain, read some interesting stuff and found out about Dr. Stuart McGill ! His book the Back Mechanic changed everything for me so I highly highly recommend it.
Doing the daily walks and practicing spine hygiene with specific exercises has made a huge difference. I’m now pain-free 90% of the time and slowly and steadily regaining mobility. ‘’
Section 3: Recognizing the triggers and Alleviating Lower Back Pain
As a first step you will need to locate the exact movements that are causing you pain and eliminate them. Developing replacement movement patterns is crucial and will enable you to move freely without pain.
Next steps toward rehabilitation:
1) Strengthen the core: exercises to strengthen your intrabdominal muscles will help you stabilize your spine and alleviate pain symptoms (video with McGill Big 3).
2) Mobilize the hips: exercises to soften the hip flexors may help alleviate lower back as well as pain in your pelvis. You may want to first approach hip mobility exercises under the guidance of a chiropractor or physiotherapist.
3) Massage therapy: Massage therapy is an effective way to reduce muscle tension that causes lower back pain by increasing blood flow through massage strokes. Myofascial release (deep tissue) massage and Trigger point therapy may prove to be very helpful in cases of dull aches.
Finally, make sure you avoid mistakes at the gym.
Section 4: Disc injury and Sciatica
If you have ever experienced sharp, shooting pain that radiates from your lower back down to your leg, then you might have had sciatica. Sciatica is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. In the paragraphs below, we will find some of the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for sciatica.
Definition of Sciatica
Sciatica is a term used to describe pain that originates from the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and runs from the lower two lumbar joints, through the buttock, hip joints, down to your thigh, shin and finally at your foo and toes. When this nerve is compressed or irritated, it can cause pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the buttocks, hips, and legs.
Sciatica is often caused by a herniated disc, which is a condition where the cushion-like discs between the vertebrae in the spine bulge out and press against the nerve roots that make up the sciatic nerve. Other common causes of sciatica include arthritic bone, spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal.
Symptoms of Sciatica
The symptoms of sciatica can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Common symptoms include:
– Pain that radiates from the lower back down to the leg
– Numbness or tingling in the leg or foot
– Weakness in the leg or foot
– Difficulty standing up or walking
– Pain that gets worse with sitting or standing for long periods
Diagnosis of Sciatica
To diagnose sciatica, your doctor will first perform a physical exam to assess your range of motion, reflexes, and muscle strength. They may also order imaging tests such as an MRI, or CT scan to get a better look at the spine and rule out other conditions. Nerve conduction studies may also be performed to evaluate nerve function and diagnose any damage.
Treatment Options for Sciatica
Treatment options for sciatica depend on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. Here are some of the most common treatment options:
Home Remedies: Several home remedies can help alleviate sciatica pain, including stretching exercises, hot and cold therapy, and lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight and practicing good posture.
Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with sciatica. Prescription medications such as muscle relaxants and corticosteroids may also be prescribed by your doctor to help alleviate symptoms.
Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can be an effective treatment option for sciatica. Your physical therapist can teach you specific exercises and techniques to help relieve pain, improve flexibility, and strengthen the muscles that support your spine. These exercises may include decompression and nerve flossing, which can be effective with a correct technique.
Surgery: Surgery is considered when there is significant neurological deficit and/or the patient is unable to perform everyday activities and pain has not improved after a considerable amount of time. Microdiscectomy and laminectomy are two common surgical procedures used.
We hope you have found some useful resources in this article. Do explore all of them and remember that each case of lower back pain and sciatica is unique!