According to the National Institutes of Health, low back pain is the number one cause for work-related disability, a common cause of missed work days, and the second most common neurological problem in America. So if you suffer from or have ever experienced lumbar pain, you are not alone and you may have likely been misinformed on how to get rid of the pain.
People tend to do what seems right logically when they are experiencing pain or illness, but when it comes to your health, you should consult your doctor, as well as find out as much as possible about your ailment or condition, as misinformation can make your problems worse.
Does Pain Always Mean Rest?
In most people’s minds, back pain calls for rest in hopes that the pain will subside on its own. After all, if you break your leg, injure your arm or sprain your ankle, doctor’s orders normally call for you to take it easy, prop up the injured body part and rest as much as possible.
In the case of low back pain, however, lying in bed for extended periods of time (beyond 48 hours) can make your back pain a lot worse. Inactivity is not the solution. You should actually begin moving more, but keeping it simple enough so that you don’t further injure yourself.
Something like walking would work perfectly to get your back muscles engaged and strengthened again with very little likelihood of injury. Stretching is also important to elongate back muscles and warm them up before attempting any activity.
Studies have shown that exercise, in contrast to surgery, is oftentimes more effective at treating and resolving low back pain issues. For example, a study in Spine documented the results of 64 patients with impaired and deteriorated discs, between the ages of 25 and 60, half of which underwent corrective surgery and half of which went the route of exercise and body conditioning. Exercise beat out surgery, with 76 percent of the exercise group being successful and only 70 percent of the surgery group.
Though the numbers are close in comparison, just think of the danger, therapy, recovery, cost, and time lost for surgery when all they had to do was put their bodies to work and in essence heal themselves. Every case is not so clear cut and simple, but it just goes to show you how beneficial exercise can be.
Ironically, the cause for lower back pain is often not related to bones and slipped discs like many people believe. Instead, the root cause is often inactivity or overactivity. Exercising and exerting ourselves too much can cause tears in our ligaments, joints, and muscles, which can be excruciatingly painful. On the other hand, inactivity and no exercise leave the back muscles weak, unsupportive and prone to injury.
Getting your spine back in shape can be as simple as dusting off your sneakers and going for a walk for starters. While the back muscles are adjusting, stretch often and use hot and cold packs intermittently to soothe, relax and protect those muscles. Of course, consult your doctor before any attempt at solving your back issue as yours could be a special case.