Pain in the lower back, or lumbar spine region, is common in part because your lower back is one of the more structurally complex areas of your body.
In addition to bones, tendons, and muscles, your lower back is home to many nerves, as well as spinal discs that absorb shock and provide structural support. Simply put, there’s a lot that can go wrong in the lower back region, with painful, challenging results.
Dealing with lower back pain means, first and foremost, visiting your doctor. Only your doctor can make an accurate diagnosis, and suggest treatment tailored to your unique needs. However, treatment protocols may vary over time and with experimentation. The best outcomes require close communication between you and your doctor to ensure effective results.
Dealing with Lower Back Pain Requires a Focused, Creative Approach
The first challenge with lower back pain is identifying the source. While pain from a nerve, disc, or muscle injury might feel similarly severe, treatment options vary based on the cause of pain. Some types of lower back pain may be treated with rest and rehabilitation, while other issues require a more aggressive approach. Remember to always speak with your doctor before making any treatment decision that could impact your health.
Rest – Striking the right balance between rest and activity may help you manage lower back pain. With a busy life, it can be hard to slow down to give your back time to heal, but the short-term sacrifice may lead to better long-term results. The balance comes in getting the right amount of rest while still engaging in enough activity to keep your muscles strong.
Exercise – Spending too much time at rest can be counterproductive for some types of back pain, so your doctor may also suggest an exercise plan to strengthen the affected area. It’s especially important to speak with your doctor before engaging in an exercise plan. Choosing the wrong exercises, or even doing the correct exercises in the wrong way, may lead to trouble.
Heat and Cold – Most types of lower back pain are accompanied by inflammation. Using a heat or cold press may help manage inflammation, and relieve pain. Your doctor may recommend alternating between heat and cold for maximum effect.
Surgery – While some lower back injuries may require surgery, many doctors choose to try less invasive methods first when possible. If rest, rehabilitation, and other treatments fail, your doctor may recommend surgery. Common lower back surgeries include discectomy, to address herniated discs, and spinal fusion surgery in which two vertebrae are joined together.
Rehabilitation – A successful surgery is the first step, but the rehabilitation period may be just as important. Rehabilitation may involve carefully planned exercise or physical therapy to promote healing and rebuild strength. If you’re speaking with your doctor about surgery, make it a point to fully understand the kind of rehabilitation involved as well.
Lower back pain can come from short-term injuries that heal quickly, or long-term issues that present a more complex challenge. No matter the type and severity of pain you’re experiencing, it’s important to address the issue with your doctor. There is no magic solution, but there are many small steps that may ultimately make a big difference.