FAQ – Lower Back Pain

What causes lower back pain?

There are may theories out there. Some people claim that back pain is caused by psychological pain stored up in the body. This theory suggests that you have a lot of repressed emotions and this is manifested as actual physical pain in the body. While I do not dispute that this can be a factor, I have seen far more physical reasons for lower back pain. In my experience, your posture is the definitive cause of back pain.

For example, if you sit most of the day, don’t work out very much and hardly ever stretch, your chances of getting back pain are extremely high. And since, that is most of us, it should not surprising that most of us have back pain. There are some main postural distortions that occur over time, but the more important point is that they do occur. I can see them as clear as night and day on people and you will need to identify your own postural issues if you really want to address lower back pain so you can get rid of it.

Take a look at your hips from the side, preferably by using a mirror. Imagine there is a bucket of water resting on your pelvis. Now, your hips are the bucket. Looking at your hips, can you see if the bucket would be spilling water out the front or in the back? If so, you have a postural shift that can definitely cause significant back pain. By the way, it can also cause upper back pain, neck pain and shoulder issues. Once your hips are out of balance, the rest of the body has to compensate for it.

Take a few moments to analyze how you look. How do you stand? How do you sit? Become more aware of how you hold your body throughout the day. You will be surprised how often it is in unnatural and unhealthy positions. So, to become aware of this is the first step. Then, you can begin to counteract the damage.

How can I get out of Lower Back Pain?

Okay, so now you need to actually do something to get out pain, right? Well, depending on how you stand and sit, you will need different exercises. We want to stretch the muscles in your body that have gotten inflexible and add strength to the areas that are overly weak. And everyone is slightly different. It all comes back to your posture, because that is a tell tale sign of what muscles are too weak or too tight.

As a general rule, you will probably want to strengthen your core no matter what. This includes doing exercises for your lower back, abdominals and psoas. Most people have incredibly tight and/or weak psoas muscles and this usually directly affects the lower back. So, start working on making your core stronger with good stabilization exercises.

Then, get to work on the muscle imbalances that are causing your postural problems. As I said, you want to strengthen the weak muscles and stretch the tight muscles. Generally speaking, if you have kyphotic posture you want to stretch the muscles in the back of your legs and strengthen the front. If you have lordotic posture, you will want to strengthen the muscles in the back of the legs and stretch the muscles in the front. Of course, it is a little more complicated than that, but that is the general rule.

How can I protect myself from a back Injury?

In addition to getting out of pain, you will also want to protect yourself from future pain and injury. You don’t want to be a shut in your whole life, afraid of sports and exercise. And the great news is that you definitely do not have to live that way. By fixing your postural distortions and muscle imbalances, you can get back to life in a healthy and natural way. As you learn to move properly, you will be protecting your back and learning to move in a very functional way. And that means dramatically reducing the risk of future injury and pain.

Bulged Disk – The Unspoken Truth!

Is the news of a bulged disk really significant? According to a study conducted years ago by Maureen C. Jensen and Jeffrey S. Ross and published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, not at all. Many other studies have been repeated over the last two decades and the results have been duplicated and validated. The shocking news was that half the adults, according to this study, had a bulge in their disk. The fascinating and surprising fact is that none of the individuals experienced any back pain. None whatsoever.

Yet most doctors will send you for some sort of imaging or screening, to provide to you proof of a bulged or herniated disk, when you come to see them for lower back pain. As has been shown in the study, this condition apparently exists in most of us anyway. There might not be any relationship between a bulged or herniated disk and pain in your lower back, at least based on scientific facts. If we go to scientists such as physicians seeking advice and treatment, we should at least receive scientific based evidence of the suspected reason for our pains.

If an X-ray shows a broken bone, you would suspect you have broken your bone. If you have severe pain in your leg after experiencing a fall, chances are high you broke a bone. To validate this hypothesis you take an image of your bone. However, this is the exact finding of this study, rules out the direct correlation between lower back pain and bulging disks.

Here are the concluding remarks of the study.

“On MRI examination of the lumbar spine, many people without back pain have disk bulges or protrusions but not extrusions. Given the high prevalence of these findings and of back pain, the discovery by MRI of bulges or protrusions in people with low back pain may frequently be coincidental.”

Coincidental? That is not the term my doctor used when we observed my MRI results. Which raises the greater question, why send me to have an MRI in the first place. His reasoning at the time was to verify that it was not a bulged disk. Perhaps my physician was not updated by the latest research studies. The unfortunate truth is that most doctors are not.

MRI and CAT scans are still called for, even though they have been ruled out as unnecessary. Ultimately the results of your condition will be the same whether you had imaging and discovered a bulged disk or just went about your business knowing that you have a fifty percent chance of having a bulged disk anyway, pain or not.

How’s your back?

Back Pain and Joint Pain Relief Through Sleeping on a Novaform Mattress

As we get older, it doesn’t take a lot to put a back out, just a little twist a little wrong move and you could on your back for 2 weeks. Some chronic back problems or joint pains, and the doctor prescribes a period of bed rest, but your old mattress doesn’t seem comfortable anymore, it doesn’t matter what position you’re in all you feel is pain. Getting rest and relief from pain is as good as a mile away. Well it could be time to consider getting a new mattress.

Novaform Memory Foam Mattress

When NASA was looking for something to give a better cushioning effect for the astronauts during lift off, they invented memory foam, it was released to the public in the 1980’s and since then has been used in the bedding industry. Possibly the most outstanding feature about memory foam is its ability to conform to the body, giving relief to back pain and joint pain. When memory foam first hit the market it was expensive and not affordable to most people. The good news is that with advances in technology it has now become affordable to for most people.

How does a Memory Foam Mattress Help You?

Memory foam is heat sensitive foam, as you body warms up the surrounding form, your body will start to sink in, and it will naturally conform to your body giving the support and at the same time give the relief from pressure points. This will give more comfort and result in a better rest which will help your body repair itself faster. It’s important when you buy a memory foam mattress that you get one with a high foam density getting one with a foam density of 5-6 lbs/cubic foot will give you a mattress that’s durable and will last for years. Lighter density foam doesn’t have the durability and some have complained that only after 10 months that their mattresses lost the ability to bounce back.

How Many Types of Novaform Mattresses are There?

There are several different types of Novaform mattresses, though the most recent model is the Novaform Pure Comfort mattresses, which can be found in a number of different sizes, King, Queen, Twin, and Normal sizes. These mattresses are twelve inches thick, consisting of a base 9″ layer of base foam that is topped with a 3″ layer of premium high quality memory foam. The mattress has a cotton-polyester stretch knit cover. You can expect to pay anywhere between $550 – $800

Memory Foam Mattress Toppers are a Good Option

For those who cannot afford the cost of a brand new mattress, or those who have a mattress that is still in good condition and not ready for replacement, buying a memory foam mattress topper is a good option. These are positioned on top of your current mattress. The mattress pads are designed to give you the benefit of a memory foam mattress at a fraction of the cost, giving a much better sleep than you’ll otherwise have if you purchased a typical latex mattress topper. Many people buy a latex mattress because of the hypo-allergic and anti-bacterial qualities. However, a Novaform mattress will offer you these same advantages, while at the same time ensuring a good night’s sleep.

Added Advantages

Novaform memory foam mattresses are hypoallergenic that means it contains fewer allergens. For people who have problems with dust mite allergies, this is good news. Memory foam is made from non organic matter (dust mites can’t eat the mattress), as well as having fewer hollow spaces, means fewer numbers of dust mites to live in.

3 Ways to Stay Current on News Without Losing Your Mind

If you are like me, logging onto Facebook or reading the news can be an emotional upheaval. Depending on what the news is, it can even become an anxiety trigger. At it’s worse; it can alter my energy and change the course of my day because of how it affects me.

I am happy to be a sensitive person who feels things deeply. I think this is a good experience of life and I would never change it. However, for those of you who are open and sensitive like me, you know how sometimes the truth of something can strike you at such a deep chord, there is no other appropriate response but grief and tears.

Staying abreast of current events is important. It is valuable to know what is going on in the world and to get involved and let your voice be heard on topics that are important to you. However, it is also imperative to keep your own wellbeing and health in the forefront of your attention.

Here are 3 things I do to help me stay grounded and vibrating at a high level (even while staying current on what is happening in our world.)

Set a timer

It is easy with social media and cell phones in our pockets to be constantly bombarded with news. We must decide on how much input is optimal for our health and wellbeing on a daily basis. Checking our phones every 30min is not going to change the world or what is happening in it – but it will change you.

For me, during the week, my maximum news/social media saturation is about 45 min. I usually check in with the world in the morning for around 30min, and then some days I check in again in the late afternoon for 10-15min.

I am also a firm believer in fasting. News and social media fasting, that is. It is important to go an entire day, or even an entire weekend without logging into social media or reading news on the computer. All of us have people and experiences in our lives that are more important than our screens (news and social media). I recommend looking at how you spend your time and making sure that the time you spend with each experience is in alignment with how important that experience or person is to you in your life. For example, if I am acting unconsciously, I can easily spend more time on Facebook than I do with my husband. Because my husband is vastly more important to me than Facebook, I find more joy, love, and connection when I live consciously and prioritize appropriately.

Each of us has a natural wisdom, and when we are constantly putting things in, we leave no time for that wisdom to come out. Furthermore, when we read things that create stress for us, our bodies are filled with the stress hormone cortisol.

Christopher Bergland says, “Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease… The list goes on and on. Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy.”

I witness daily how difficult it is for my clients to use their phone and computers with intention. I understand that for some (many) people self-control around how frequently they ‘log on’ is a challenge. However, when most people allow how it is affecting their health to really sink in, it becomes obvious that it has to monitored by your self-control.

Choose the time of day that you engage

Choosing the time of day that you engage in reading news and social media is really important. It is unwise to stress yourself out right before you go to work, have dinner with your family, climb into bed, or engage in a creative process. Knowing that you might see or read something that will create an emotional response in you, you have to choose the best time to expose yourself to that input.

I like to engage with news and social media in the morning before I exercise. Nothing helps me manage my stress better than exercise and nature. If I am emotionally triggered by news in my feed and then I go for a run outdoors, I can come back and begin my workday in a grounded and positive energy. If I read the news up to the time that I begin my work day, I will find it difficult to hold the space, think clearly, or be creative.

If I ‘log-on’ in the afternoon, I will try to buffer that by sitting on my porch appreciating nature for 5 min, or having a single-person dance party. This way I make sure that when I go into the last part of my day, which for me is dinner and time with my family, I can be fully present with them and experience the depth and width of my capacity for joy.

End on a positive note

I enjoy having a go-to list of websites, songs, videos, stories and poems that raise my vibration and leave me feeling upbeat, positive and hopeful about our world. It is easy to be saturated by the negative – but there is an equal (if not more) amount of positive. People are helping each other, they are showing kindness to each other, they are giving of themselves, and they are caring for animals and nature. Allow yourself to witness it and feel uplifted by it. Take care to gain perspective and see the entire picture so that your focus (thoughts and feelings) doesn’t become pinpointed on the negative in our world. Taking a few minutes to end on a positive note is like having an after dinner mint. It leaves your brain with a sweet and refreshed palate.

Back Pain Products to Help My Back Pain

If you suffer lower back pain, you are not on your own. Probably nearly all adults at some point in their lives will experience this condition that interferes with their work eg there is a high incidence of lumbar pain in drivers, everyday activities, sports (eg lumbar pain in golfers) or hobbies. Lower back pain or sciatica is considered the most common cause of job-related disability and the highest contributor to absenteeism in the western world. For example, it is second to headaches as the most common neurological ailment in the United States. Generally, most occurrences of lower back pain or lumbar pain subside after a few days, although some instances may take much longer to resolve or very occasionally lead to more serious conditions.

Short-term pain (Acute) generally lasts from a few days to a few weeks, and this condition tends to be mechanical in nature, the consequence of trauma to the lower back or a condition such as arthritis. Back pain from trauma may be caused by an injury sustained through sports activity, household jobs or working in the garden.

Sometimes, sudden jarring from a minor fall, or other stress on the lower back bones and tissues could be the root cause of low lumbar pain or sciatica. Symptoms of lumbar pain may range from aching muscles to shooting or sharp stabbing pain, limited flexibility and/or range of motion, or an inability to stand straight. Sometimes, pain felt in one part of the body may stem from a disorder or injury incurred in other parts of the body. Very occasionally acute low back pain syndromes could become more serious if untreated.

Definitions of what period or duration constitutes chronic back pain vary but pain that persists for over 12 weeks would generally be described as chronic.

Often the initial cause of the back problem is not known and this condition can sometimes be progressive The good news is that the vast majority of occurrences can be treated without surgery. Back pain treatments include analgesics, to reduce inflammation, to restoring proper mobility and strength to the back, by a variety of back pain products and therapies, to strategies for the avoidance of recurrence of the injury.

Usually patients suffering lumbar pain recover fully and don’t incur continuing loss of functionality. It’s advisable to contact your GP if there is no improvement or reduction in the back pain and inflammation after 3 days There is a plethora of exercises, medication, or therapy products and gadgets available to sufferers, designed to provide either, relief, prevention or both.

Although some of these back pain products (such as Magnatherapy or aromatherapy) would be described as ‘alternative’ or pseudoscientific ie they have few empirically or scientifically proven benefits, many are developed through the application of sound medical principle and theory. It’s worthwhile asking your GP for recommendations on any therapies as well as making sure that the cause is not more serious

Back pain therapy devices PGAT devices

Inversion Tables

Inversion is a natural form of passive gravity assisted traction (PGAT) that uses the patient’s body weight in conjunction with gravity to decompress weight-bearing joints. While the patient is rotated and suspended, gravity effectively creates a traction, resulting in a customized stretch that extends the spine, from the sacroiliac to the cervical joints of the neck, increasing the space between the vertebrae, which relieves the pressure on the discs and nerve roots. By reducing this pressure there is less interference with the spinal nerves thus reducing lower lumbar pain. Inversion is considered to be an effective therapy This is typically performed on what’s called an inversion table.

The table allows you to lie on your back relaxed, in an inverted position. This position eliminates some or all gravitational compression, depending upon how far back you position your body. Inversion therapy relieves back pain, and it works even better when it’s part of a well-rounded therapy plan that addresses the specific muscle imbalances you have. But even by itself it is highly effective. A recent study done at Newcastle University found that over 70% of patients who performed inversion therapy were able to cancel their scheduled back surgeries.

CPM Mobilisers

Backlife

Backlife is designed to apply a Continuous Passive Movement (CPM) to the lower back pain sufferer in a similar way to how a healthcare professional, as part of his back pain therapy, would apply in order to help relieve pressure between the vertebrae, and therefore relieve pain in the lumbar region. In order to apply CPM the user would lie on the floor bending their knees over the upper section of the machine. As the upper section moves, it gently rotates the pelvis in a circular fashion, allowing the joints to move, whilst the joints remain relaxed. The advertised benefits of Backlife for pain relief are that it reduces the stress and pressure on the lower back, restores back mobility and improves stability. In addition it reduces lumbar pain with regular use, improves posture, and reduces muscle tension.

Back in action Mobiliser

The Back in Action Mobiliser is an extremely powerful medical grade spinal joint mobilisation system, available for home or professional use for back pain relief. It’s described as usually very effective at decreasing the symptoms of long term and chronic musculo-skeletal problems. The system applies very localised pressure to the muscles either side of the spine, simulating a practitioners ‘thumbing technique,whilst mobilising the spine, flexing and extending the spine, freeing up stubborn vertebrae. In addition to this the mobilise provides a continuous passive motion (CPM) considered to be beneficial to health and aid healing The mobilise has been used to treat conditions such as: lumbago; prolapse /slipped disc, sciatica; scoliosis, arthritic hips, sacro-iliac dysfunction, whiplash injuries; fibromyalgia and many other disabling conditions. It is also comprehensively tested and endorsed by medics, so that it is probably the most commended back pain therapy care system available. Its most significant disadvantage is that it is made in small numbers and is expensive to buy however they are available to hire.

Backstretcher

The Backstretcher, also known as the Rolastretcher provides relief with a combination of massage and stretching movements, allowing the user to move and stretch different parts of the spine by moving up and down the frame. The rollers also provide pressure (acupressure) on the back muscles either side of the spine where dysfunctional trigger points (knots) often occur. It provides back pain sufferers the opportunity to complement their therapeutic treatment with a device, which is portable, The effectiveness of this device has been confirmed by scientific study by the University of Iowa’s Spine Centre.

Flexibak

Flexibak is back support cradle that is designed to ease lower back pain problems, reduce discomfort, and promote relief, by decompression of key joints, allowing natural movement to return to the user. Flexibak, developed by 2 leading British osteopaths, is designed to encourage the lumbar and sacroiliac joints to open up, and encourage the return of natural movement as pressure on inflamed muscles is relieved.

Back cushions and wedges and Supports Cushions

Back cushions

These are custom shaped soft cushions which are tailored to the natural shape of the user’s lower back and designed to offer support whilst maintaining an ergonomic and comfortable posture whilst sat on a chair or in the car, thus providing an element of relief for low back pain.

Seat wedges

Seat wedges provide lumbar pain relief in a natural passive manner. Sitting on a seat wedge has the effect of moving forward the pelvis which has the effect of causing the users spine to adopt a more ergonomically correct upright posture. Seat wedges maybe useful for lumbar pain suffering car drivers by angling their backs into more comfortable driving positions, or in sedentary workplace situations where the back pain sufferer may be adopting a suiting position for several hours, for example call centre workers. Ideal for everybody working in a sitting position, especially PC users. A variant of the seat wedge is the coccyx wedge which incorporates a cut away section to reduce or avoid pressure on the sacrum or coccyx which could be causing lower back pain or tail bone pain.

Back Braces

These aim to constrict the affected area of low back pain low afflicted area, these strap-on body braces help reduce lower back pain and help to correct poor posture.

TENS units

TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) is the application of electric current produced by a device to stimulate the nerves for therapeutic purposes. In this case we are referring to portable stimulators used to help with back pain. The unit is usually connected to the skin using two or more electrodes or semi adhesive pads. Although the first units developed in the US for testing tolerance of chronic back pain sufferers to electrical stimulation in preparation for surgically invasive implants, many patients reported deriving relief from the TENS itself. A number of companies began manufacturing TENS units after the commercial success of the Meditronic device became known TENS is regarded as a non-invasive, safe nerve stimulation intended to reduce pain, both acute and chronic. Controversy does exist over its effectiveness in treating of chronic back pain. In 2007 a feature in the Pain Journal concluded that ENS was effective for chronic musculoskeletal pain whereas the journal Neurology advised against recommending TENS for chronic lower back pain,but other neurologists in the same journal suggested that in some patients TENS is useful. TENS units available from high street retailers Baxolve offers immediate relief for lower back pain through a combination of TENS therapy and lumbar support in one easy to use convenient belt.

Heat and cold back pain products

There is little empirical evidence that the application of hot and cold compresses actually effectively relieve back pain conditions, although the use of hot and cold compresses may provide relief by helping to reduce the lower back pain, spasms, and inflammation, in turn allowing for improved mobility for some back pain sufferers. Immediately after the trauma, the sufferer would apply a cold compress (generally ice packs or refrigerant gel) to the affected area of the lower back pain, maybe after a strain, for up to about 20 minutes a few time a day, for a couple of days to help reduce tissue inflammation. After a couple of days the back pain sufferer would then apply heat to the affected area, using a variety of methods such as heat pads, heat lamps etc for short durations. This has the effect of dilating the blood vessels which increase blood flow to the affected tissues, and encouraging the healing process. It also has the effect of relaxing the muscles similar to having a warm bath after exertion. As with any back pain treatment it’s advisable to consult your GP before commencing a treatment.

Magnet therapy

Magnet therapy can be described as an alternative or pseudoscientific method of back pain treatment, using magnetic fields on the body to promote back pain relief and healing, with a perceived, though not understood positive effect on blood oxygen content. There is no scientific basis to conclude that small, static magnets can relieve pain It has its origins in Traditional Oriental Medicine (TOM) dating back some 2000 years, centered around ‘Chi’or ‘energy flows’ around the body and instrumental in health and wellbeing, with magnetic wave therapy having associations with acupuncture or and acupressure. Although it is regarded with an element of scepticism due to seemingly physical and biological implausibility, in Eastern countries, therapeutic magnets are licensed as medical devices, and it does appear to be gaining some recognition within the US medical community, with an example of affirmative research of published in the MDBR Journal of Rheumatology. The downside to this is the difficulty associated with establishing true blind testing of magnets and associated ‘placebo or Hawthorne’ effects within test groups. By all means have a look at what’s available but remain sceptical.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound is often used as a method of pain relief by physios and therapists in combination with other pain treatments, such as manipulation, massage, ice treatment and interferential (electrotherapy). The ultrasound device causes millions of sound waves to penetrate deep into tissue in order to promote healing of inflamed or damaged muscles, tendons and ligaments. It’s claimed that ultrasound can reduce tissue inflammation by stimulating blood flow, promote healing by stimulating soft tissue, and assist in the absorption uf analgesics, and reduce pain. Again there is conflict over the effectiveness for lower back pain treatment with both positive user testimonials offset by inconclusive meta analysis. See Physical Therapy article Jul 2001 and New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy Jul 2008

Ultralieve

Ultralieve Pro is a mains operated or portable hand held medical grade device designed for home use to help with pain and promote healing by conducting ultrasound waves into the damaged tissue. Although the device is easy its perhaps best if the user has received ultrasound treatment previously from a physio or healthcare professional, and again it’s advisable to check with your GP or physio before using one to derive pain relief It should not be used as a replacement for conventional help with back pain but in conjunction with it in between sessions. Again there is conflict over the effectiveness to help with back pain with both positive user testimonials offset by inconclusive meta analysis.