Chronic Lower Back Treatment Bellevue, WA
If you are 30 years of age and above, you’ve probably had your own experience with lower back pain. Lumbago, as some doctors call it, originates in the lumbar region of your spine, right below your ribcage.
The lumbar region is composed of 5 vertebrae, labeled L1 through L5. Between the vertebrae are round, intervertebral discs that help cushion and absorb the impact to the backbone as you move and go about your daily routine. This area supports most of the weight of your upper body and is susceptible to stress and strain on a daily basis.
Common Pain Among Adults
It is estimated that about 25% of adults have probably experienced pain in the past three months. This condition affects both men and women equally. Symptoms range from a mild, dull ache to sudden sharp, stabbing pain in the general area. Sometimes pain can shoot down the legs as well.
The good news is that most people (about 65% of those who get it) feel better in a few weeks’ time. There are three classifications for lower back pain:
- Acute – for pain that lasts less than 6 weeks
- Sub-chronic – for pain that lasts from 6-12 weeks
- Chronic – when the condition lasts more than 12 weeks
Causes and Risk Factors
The cause of pain is sometimes difficult to pinpoint. In most cases, back pain is caused by actual, physical strain in the joints or muscles, such as a pulled muscle. Other possible physical strains include osteoarthritis, a herniated disc, or vertebral fracture.
Inflammation around the area such as inflammatory bowel disease or arthritis can alternatively lead to pain. At times, it may also be caused by an infectious condition like an abscess or osteomyelitis.
A malignant condition like cancer or a chronic condition like fibromyalgia may also induce pain. Below are some other factors that contribute to having lower back problems and advice on how to avoid some of them:
- Age – If you are above 30 years old, you are more at risk for developing these types of problems.
- Poor posture – The best way to support the lumbar area is to avoid slouching while seated, keep your shoulders straight, and plant both feet firmly on the ground or a low stool. Avoid carrying a heavy bag on one shoulder as this contributes to poor posture as well as pain.
- Weight gain – Avoid sudden weight gain or obesity as it can create muscle stress. Overweight individuals are more likely to experience lower back and joint pain.
- Poor physical fitness – It is no surprise that those who are less physically fit tend to experience back pain more than those who exercise regularly and keep an active lifestyle. Sudden bursts of strenuous physical activity, however, may lead to injury and are also not advisable.
- Pregnancy – Pelvic changes in pregnant women may increase their tendency to experience this condition particularly during the third trimester.
- Occupational hazard – Having a job that involves pushing, pulling, or lifting heavy weights on a regular basis increases your risk for developing lower back problems as well.
Back Therapy at Home
Home remedies for lower back pain include the use of heat pads over the area to lessen the pain. Warm baths may help provide temporary alleviation from pain as well. Bed rest has actually been found to make matters worse, so try to avoid too much time in bed.
Go about your normal tasks as much as you can, but avoid any strenuous physical activities or anything that may involve heavy lifting, such as weight-lifting exercises and the like. If needed, over-the-counter pain relievers can also lessen pain and inflammation.
Deep breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques may also help you manage the problem. Be sure to call your doctor if you feel any of the following symptoms:
- You have numbness or tingling in your arms, legs, or groin area.
- You feel pain in your lower back when you cough.
- You feel pain when you bend over at the waist.
- You have problems controlling your bowel movement.
Fever and/or burning urination may signal a urinary tract infection that will need to be treated with antibiotics. You should also consult your doctor if the pain does not get better after 6 weeks.
Chronic Lower Back Pain
When the pain lasts for more than 3 months, doctors classify this condition as chronic. Because of its nature, chronic back pain may cause you some sleepless nights. Lack of sleep is often an issue among those who suffer from this condition.
Those who have this also tend to lessen their level of activity every day and may experience a decrease in the quality of their life as a result. A recent study states that chronic pain has been found to affect a person’s overall mood, mental health, and even sexual function.
Diagnosis and Testing
Most of the time, there is no need for imaging tests such as CT scans, MRIs, or X-rays to diagnose the cause of low back pain. If your doctor suspects cancer, he or she may recommend a CT scan or MRI.
Another test called the “straight leg raise” test is very useful for determining whether the cause is a herniated disc. Your doctor may also get a blood test if he or she suspects some kind of infection.
These tests help determine the location or origin of the pain and your available range of movement. More importantly, these assessments are done to make sure that the pain is not caused by a more serious underlying medical condition.
Treatment and Management
There are several ways to go about treating chronic lower back pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers, topical pain relievers, and muscle relaxants may help. Opioids may also be used for a short time if the pain is acute. Epidural injections can help depending on the patient’s situation.
Surgery is often not the answer. It is only when other treatment options have been exhausted that surgery is considered. Even a herniated disc may not require surgery if the patient responds to other remedies.
Natural Treatment Options for Your Lower Back
These days, there are more natural methods to manage chronic back pain, and these are often more advisable than those mentioned above. Here are a few of those options:
- Chiropractic manipulation – Manual manipulation techniques used by chiropractors can help align your backbone and ease the pain. Chiropractic care may be quite effective, especially after an injury or accident.
- Massage – Soft tissue manipulation combined with some light stretching can be quite effective in relieving pain in sore muscles and joints. It improves blood circulation, promotes muscle relaxation, and strengthens the body’s immune system.
- Exercise – Yoga has been found to be particularly helpful, and the benefits usually last for several months. One study has found that 12 weeks of yoga classes have helped people get rid of chronic back pain. Back strengthening exercises may also help, but it is best to do these only after you consult with your doctor since not all exercises are safe for everyone.
- Meditation – Learning meditation techniques can develop mindfulness and relaxation to help you avoid focusing on the pain. Studies have found that patients who learn to meditate are able to control their perception of pain and report being less sensitive to it.
Treating Chronic Lower Back Pain in the Washington Area
Any method to manage chronic lower back pain is best discussed thoroughly with your doctor or specialist. Fortunately, individuals suffering from this condition have this option available to them at the nearby Kirkland Health Institute.
We specialize in chronic conditions and help our patients achieve a level of wellness by comprehensively diagnosing their condition, educating them thoroughly, and helping them decide what treatment is best for them. Come see us today and find out for yourself!