Over the holidays I spent several hours on different planes and less time in the gym then I would have liked. Sure, I had two great workouts at the local Gold’s gym, but something was really affecting my lower back and it was most likely due to inactivity.
Yesterday, I felt extreme pressure on my lower back area for the entire day. The feeling was like a consistent dull ache which even disturbed my sleep. This was the first time feeling something like this. I’m only 30 years old and I’m experiencing constant pain in my lower back. This is terrible!
“You will feel better when you get to the gym and workout”, a friend suggested. I told them that I probably needed to see a chiropractor since my last appointment was several months ago.
We were on the way to the gym and I said, “If I don’t feel better after this workout I am going to call a chiropractor.” Walking from the car to the gym I tried to really tune in with what was going on inside my body. The act of walking started to alleviate the consistent feeling of pressure in my lower back.
We started with a slow walk on the treadmill and like magic my lower back was starting to feel better! I honestly thought something was very wrong with my lower back and that visiting a chiropractor was the only remedy. In the past, I have gone days without training and endured longer plane flights, so what was different about this time?
Maybe it’s a fact of my age and since now that I’m in my 30’s things are simply going to start breaking down quicker. Or, that it’s my winter off-season and I have not been doing much more than a 5-10 minute warm-up on the treadmill before my weight lifting workout each day. I want to prevent myself from experiencing any sort of low back pain again and I will provide you with information to help you distance yourself from this common ailment. In my research I have found that there are many different causes and treatments for low back pain.
What Kinds of Problems Might Cause Low Back Pain?
The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) provided me with the following information and I can now understand that I was experiencing myofascial pain. Treatment for any back condition is recommended as soon as possible to minimize the danger of further aggravation. The following is a list of only some of the conditions that may cause lower back pain:
- Radiculopathy– A pinched nerve, also called sciatica, usually from a herniated or slipped disk. This can cause a shooting pain down the leg that is often described as an “electrical shock” feeling.
- Myofascial Pain– Generally an aching pain in muscles that tends to come from poor posture, sitting at a computer, or other job-related tasks. With myofascial back pain, the patient can become sore in different parts of the body like the back and legs. Often patients report that they have difficulty sleeping or feeling restored from sleep.
- Spinal Stenosis– A narrowing of the nerve openings either around the spinal cord or nerve roots that can cause symptoms similar to a pinched nerve. It can cause leg pain in anyone, but most often does so in older people. Patients with spinal stenosis can have trouble walking and the difficulty is usually relieved by sitting down or bending forward. It can cause aching or heaviness in the back and legs.
- Tendon, Ligament and Soft Tissue Pain– Localized pain when an area is stretched or its muscles are overused. This results in tenderness in the area.
- Non-Spinal Causes of Low Back– Pain imitating a back injury, but from another cause such as appendicitis, kidney disease, uterine disorders and urinary tract infections are a few examples of problems that can cause pain in the back.
The rehabilitation of low back problems occurs in three phases. During the first phase, called the acute phase, physiatrists (rehabilitation physicians) treat pain and inflammation. After they make a specific diagnosis and develop a treatment plan, physiatrists may offer treatment options like ultrasound, electrical stimulation, mobilization, medication, ice and even specialized injections.
In the second, or recovery phase of treatment, flexibility and strength are developed to get the body parts into their proper positions. The goal of this phase is to get you back to your usual work, sports and leisure activities. This goal is achieved through specially designed exercises that rebuild the body.
The main goal of the third phase of treatment, the maintenance phase, is to minimize the recurrence of the problem and to prevent further injury. This often consists of a total body fitness program designed to maintain body mechanics and increase endurance after the original symptoms have resolved. These are very broad and include general approaches to the treatment of low back pain. The physiatrist that you choose will help develop an individual treatment plan that is right for you.
As I write this article, I’m sitting in my chair and I can feel the pain wanting to recur. You can bet that I will be scheduling my workouts like clockwork while also including a minimum of 20 minutes of cardio exercise each day. If you or someone you know is experiencing lower back pain, make sure to contact a board-certified physiatrist in your area to get further help with your issue.