Lower back pain can ruin your day.
Actually it can ruin a few weeks when it comes and hangs on a while.
You will do almost anything to remedy lower back pain.
I know I did. I had a bad lower back for 35 years and when the pain came, I was totally out of commission.
I assure you that I know what it is like to have a tweaked lower back.
I finally stumbled onto the answer to my bad lower back and have been pain-free for the last 3 years. I am still amazed at my good fortune.
I thought I would be a bad-back guy for the rest of my years.
The good news for you is that your back pain, as excruciating as it may be, is probably not that serious.
I can see you shaking your head because you know that something must be really wrong inside your back.
How can something hurt so bad and not be serious? I know. I thought the same thing.
Yes it is possible you have a real problem like a ruptured disc or bone spur or a major misalignment of the spine causing pain.
But it is very unlikely. How unlikely? I don?t know but probably 99 out of a 100 chance you don?t have a serious problem.
But I know it still hurts like hell!
You do need to solve this problem once and for all.
And you can certainly remedy lower back pain forever.
It takes four steps.
- Assessing your personal situation
- Mitigating the muscle pain by understanding its true source
- Improving lower back strength
- Removingthe extenuating factors that exacerbate the problem
This article will cover the first two points. More to come in later posts.
?Assess your condition.
You need to assure yourself you do not have a serious problem.
Your biggest fears are:
- ?you have a herniated disc
- or maybe a pinched nerve
- or some dislocation of the spinal column
- or perhaps arthritis is tearing you down
- or at least a torn muscle is the culprit
Here is how you assess your low back pain condition and allay your fears.
- Did you suffer obvious trauma? Like a car accident or falling off the roof or hitting a tree while skiing. Serious trauma is what we?re after.?
- Spending 2 hours weeding the garden or picking up a sack of groceries is unlikely to cause serious injury.
- Yes? Get checked out right away.
- An old accident?doesn’t?count. If you were in a car accident 3 years ago and hurt your back, that trauma is unlikely to be connected to the pain to feel today.
- Do you have incontinence issues and/or numbness around the butt and groin area? And this condition would almost certainly be related to an accident as in point #1.
- Yes? Get checked out right away.
- Did you just ?wake up with it?? You do not recall any obvious incident that could be responsible for your pain however suddenly you are in definite pain.
- Yes? This is good, quite likely and points towards muscle pain as the probable cause.
- Do you have referred pain from the low back going down your leg?
- Yes? I know you have been told this is sciatic nerve pain from a pinched nerve between your L5/S1 (L5 = last or lower lumbar vertebra and S1 = the first sacral vertebra) vertebra but it is unlikely. Sure it may be a pinched nerve but it is far more likely a result of severe muscle pain in the low back which often refers pain in radiating patterns.
- By the way, this was my diagnosis by a chiropractor about 20 years ago. Yep, I had a subluxation of the L5/S1 joint, pinching the nerve and causing the pain. He showed me the little spine model with the nerve coming out between the vertebra and it sounded logical to me.The ensuing adjustment?didn’t?help at all. But I still believed the guy. I think he believed it as well but I now know he was just guessing because that is what he was taught to do.
- Don?t get me started on the shortcomings of our health care industry but you can get a taste of opinion by watching this video.
- The pain has persisted beyond 6 to 7 weeks.
- Yes? Muscle pain tends to heal itself naturally within this time frame. Wait a few more weeks to see how you progress. If you get out to 9 weeks without appreciable improvement, go get checked out.
- The pain is getting worse and not better over time.
- Yes? This indicates something beyond just muscle pain. Remember, muscle pain can be excruciating at times so getting worse may be difficult to assess. If your pain is definitely getting worse, go get checked out.
- You have fever or chills or some other sign of being sick. This may indicate other issues are present.
- Yes? You may have muscle pain as the primary back pain problem but another disease process seems to be affecting you as well. Get yourself checked out.
- Have you experienced rapid weight loss during this time of bad back pain?
- Yes? Get yourself checked out. Something else is going on as well.
- ?In summary, if you don?t have #1 and #3 going on, you probably just have muscle pain.
- ?If #4 sounds like how it started, you almost certainly are suffering from muscle pain.
- ?If you have #5 going on, don?t worry. It is quite likely just muscle pain.
- ?If you have any of 6, 7, 8 or 9 going on, you probably want to see a professional for analysis of these symptoms.
How can muscle pain cause this much discomfort and disability?
I know it is hard to believe. If you have had low back pain for very long, you have become convinced it is a serious and probably life-long condition you have. Something major has to be wrong down there.
- ?The conventional wisdom says so.
- All the experts say so.
- The word expert always reminds me of a story I read somewhere.
- It explained the definition of an expert as:
- Any a**hole farther than 20 miles from home.
- Which means, if you can?t interpret this yourself, is that you cannot fool people who know you but once you get far enough from home where nobody knows your pedigree, you can claim to be anyone or anything. Like an expert.
- All your friends agree with the conventional wisdom and the experts (see above).
But it still is not likely to be true.
Hey, just be happy you can actually solve this problem.
Now let?s get working on that.
The muscle pain is caused from a knot or what is often called a?trigger point.
Sometimes you will get a collection of trigger points in an area (like the lower back) and this may be called myofascial pain syndrome (MPS).
If you are experiencing some nasty lower back pain,?you’ve?probably have a case of MPS.
How do you get rid of lower back trigger points? An obvious question.
You basically rub or massage them out. They will not just magically release on their own.
Stretching may feel good but it is unlikely to have an effect on trigger points. Think of a trigger point as a tightened knot of tissue with restricted blood flow and full of waste products.
The knot is less-elastic than the muscle itself. So it?s like a thick rubber band (the trigger point) tied to a medium thick rubber band (the muscle). If you stretch it from both ends, only the medium rubber band will elongate. You would have to?overstretch?(or damage) the muscle to get the knot to?stretch?at all.
And the body has difficulty healing trigger points on it?s own since the knot itself restricts blood flow and limits the natural flushing of waste products. The renewal with fresh blood that normally occurs with healing is greatly diminished.
So you are unlikely to get immediate results from stretching but it?doesn’t?mean that stretching and mobility work isn’t good for you. Quite the opposite really.
Working on flexibility and mobility with yoga,?Pilates?or just moving your body through its intended range of motion will have a positive, long term effect on managing trigger point formation.
So it probably is not the answer to remedy lower back pain right now but it should prove beneficial in preventing future occurrences of muscle pain from trigger points.
Massage is your answer.
You need to break up the knots with physical manipulation, pressure, kneading and a lot of hard work.
If your trigger points have been inflamed for long periods (and in many cases you may have had the knots for years without resolution) they can be very difficult to release.
We?ll get into massage techniques and tools in another post but?just?understand that someone or something will have to interact directly with your trigger points and release them.
It can be self-massage, a massage therapist, mechanical vibrator or maybe a small Vietnamese woman walking on your back.
You just need a little of that human touch.
Sounds like a song.
As I sit here writing this post, I am reminded of a neck trigger point I have been working on for about a month. It is a knot about the size of a walnut in a very common trigger point location just under the base of the skull on the upper neck.
The knot is on the right side only and very apparent and accessible. But it is a stubborn SOB.
I work on it as often as I can which is every other day or so. I can?t do it every day because the area gets bruised and sore after massaging it as hard as I do.
I get temporary release of the symptoms for a few hours after massage but the knot reforms by the next day.
I believe I probably have had this knot for many months if not years before finally learning about trigger points and their?significance?to back and neck pain.
I’ve?had on and off neck problems for the last 5 years or so. So this knot has been around and isn’t eager to give it up.
And I know that my daily work at the computer exacerbates the condition. My workstation ergonomics are not ideal and I experience noticeable shoulder and neck stiffness from extended periods at the computer.
A key to healing trigger points is to stop or at least mitigate the offending practices that get them to flare up.?If you are trying to remedy lower back pain and your daily grind requires you to sit in uncomfortable positions for extended periods, you have a serious challenge to overcome.
One option may be to get another job but this is not likely to be a practical solution.?A better option may be to implement a micro-breaking strategy where you get up from your offending activity and run through some quick mobility drills to return normal range of motion to the affected area.
I have to start doing this.
Have you ever watched a cat get up from a long nap? They always perform an exaggerated ?back and leg stretch routine before moving about.?I am sure this is an evolutionary thing that prepares them for instant action should they need to hit full speed in a moments notice.
Humans are just not designed for the type of activities we do now in the 21st century.
So you have to adapt your activity in a way that adverse side effects, like forming trigger points, does not occur.?More on this in another post.
But I?ll keep working at my neck trigger point (and others I seem to have) and get better at it and eventually will be pain-free in my back and neck. Or at least that is the plan.
The explosion of lower back pain is certainly a phenomenon of modern times.
People just didn’t experience this debilitating condition when they did physical work for a living.?Low back pain is a manufactured human problem directly related to our success, if you can really call it that, as a society.Technology, innovation and invention are double edged swords and you are paying the price, so to speak, with your back and neck pain.
One pretty good study showed that between 1997 and 2005, the percent of adult population?suffering?from back and neck problems increased from 21% to 26%. This amid a huge spending increase in back and neck?rehabilitation.
We are not getting better. We are losing this battle.
But you do not have to go down with the lower back pain ship.
Check out this website that discusses the Zoo Human and how we can all benefit by getting back to natural movements and removing some of the artificial creature comforts from our lives. There is some good stuff on this site.
You do not have to live with your bad back.
That is the message I want you to take away from this.
You can remedy lower back pain by:
- understanding the true source of muscle pain
- aggressively taking action to mitigate the trigger points
- assessing your lifestyle to reduce extenuating factors
Go get a massage. You deserve it.
Check out this video about how to remedy lower back pain.
Share this post with someone who suffers with a bad lower back.
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