10 Do’s and Don’ts for Managing Low Back Pain
When struggling with ongoing pain, it can be tricky to know how best to manage it. That’s why we’ve compiled the very latest research into this quick blog, “10 Do’s and Don’ts for Managing Low Back Pain.”
Recovery takes different lengths of time for different people, and it’s perfectly normal to have ups and downs. When you’re having a “bad” day, look at the days leading up to it to see if you can identify a trigger (or two). Did you do too much housework? Were you charging around after the grandchildren? Try to use these pain flare-ups as an opportunity to learn more about how your body responds to these triggers. Then, work to develop strategies alongside your Chiropractor or practitioner to help you manage the not-so-good days.
2. Don’t believe everything you hear/see/read
We all have a friend of a friend whose great Aunt’s nephew’s ex-fiancée swears by standing on your head under a full moon as a sure fix for back pain. Ok, we exaggerate. But don’t believe everything you read- the internet is a wonderful place but you should check that what you’re reading is written either by an accredited professional, or is supported by research. Some of these “recommended” treatments are at best, a waste of your hard-earned cash, and at worst, potentially harmful.
Remember- low back pain can be a complex condition to manage, and there is no one-size-fits-all “cure”. It relies on a range of strategies that are unique to the person.
3. Don’t assume that pain means long-term damage
Pain can be useful in the early stages to stop us from worsening an injury or doing too much too soon- it acts to protect us against further damage until the tissues heal and pain resolves. When you’re left with ongoing pain, your body can continue to protect you from movements or activities even when you no longer need that protection. The brain can get confused about the signals it receives from the tissues in your back (muscles, joints and ligaments), responds inaccurately and becomes over-sensitive.
Remember- hurt does not equal harm. Reminding yourself that you can be “sore but safe”, as this ccan help reduce the anxiety that surrounds pain.
4. Don’t place too much weight on scans
When we suspect that a person has a serious medical condition that may require surgery, scans such as x-rays and MRI’s can be useful. Fortunately, these serious conditions are rare, and your Chiropractor would be able to advise if a scan is needed. For the majority of people, therefore, x-rays and MRI’s can be more harmful than helpful. (Read more about this here and here)
5. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
We all experience pain, even the toughest people out there. Attempting to fight the pain and “just get on with it” can result in more regular flare ups. This creates a vicious cycle of feeling low, not sleeping well, becoming frustrated and more reliant on painkillers. Focus instead on what you can control, such as how you think about your back pain, your decision to exercise (and what type of exercise you do) and more. Being flexible in how you manage your pain can help you achieve more, with less pain.
We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again. Staying active is vital in recovering from low back pain. Regular exercise helps to control your pain, improves sleep and boosts mood. There is no one exercise that is best for persistent low back pain, so perhaps consider doing something you love with a friend, to make it fun! Remember, whilst more exercise is better, a little (and often) can go a long way.
2. Do focus on what makes you happy
Continuing on from above- try to make life fun. It can be tricky to avoid focusing on the pain, which means it can quickly become all consuming. Before long, you’re avoiding trips out, turning down social invites and potentially becoming more reclusive because “my back won’t let me.” Instead of giving too much priority to your pain, try to focus on things that bring you happiness and fulfilment. A long walk in the woods, a meal out with friends, a swimming trip with the grandchildren. You can still lead a happy, meaningful life whilst still experiencing pain.
Remember- You can control your pain.
3. Do get by with a little help from your friends
As touched on above, pain can lead to us becoming isolated from our friends and loved ones. These feelings of loneliness and isolation can leave us feeling low, reduce our activity levels and impact our sleep. Three things which are guaranteed to impact our pain levels and increase the amount of pain we experience. Share your concerns with friends and family and ask for their support in helping you to maintain your social relationships. Consider joining a class, or a hobby group to keep you active and engaged, and where possible, try to remain at work.
4. Do keep it moving
There is no single best posture, or way of sitting and moving. It’s perfectly normal to slouch on the sofa at the end of the day. We all find ourselves hunched over the computer when work gets a little stressful. Even lifting with a rounded back isn’t a problem if you can manage it. Sadly, as mentioned in point 2 of the “don’ts”, there are lots of articles suggesting that posture contributes to pain, often in conjunction with recommending expensive ergonomic supports. We know these warnings aren’t informed by the latest evidence and often lead to fear. Fear leads to increased pain. And the cycle goes on.
Remember- regular activity and frequent breaks from all postures (sitting, standing, slouching, lying- you name it) is key to a healthy back. It’s not the posture you’re in, it’s how long you’re in it for that causing the problem!
5. Do remember that your pain is real
When we’re left with ongoing pain after an original injury is long gone, it can lead to us feeling like others don’t believe we’re still in pain. Like heart disease, diabetes, and a range of conditions, there are many factors influencing the condition and influencing pain. Things that might influence your pain include your fitness and activity levels, overall health, sleep quality, social support and mental wellbeing.
Remember- regardless of why you’re experiencing pain, your pain is very real.
A final thought
Online Chiropractic Consultations provide a thorough assessment, diagnosis, advice, and ongoing support to help manage your condition. With screen sharing and anatomical software, we can help answer your questions about your pain. We work with you to ensure you have a thorough understanding of how and why you’re experiencing pain, which can actually help reduce your pain levels. Our Chiropractor Philippa has significant further training in supporting people with persistent pain.
Pain Management Coaching can help you identify your triggers, and talk through and learn more about your pain experience. We then help you put strategies in place to help you manage, control and cope with your pain, with our ongoing support.
Life and Health Coaching helps you work on the factors influencing your pain- be that low activity levels, poor diet, a lack of motivation. We offer support and guidance to address all factors involved in your pain experience.
Virtual Pilates with our APPI Certified Instructor will help get you moving and feeling more confident. Structured, supervised exercise can help you identify which exercises feel best to you, and Pilates can help increase flexibility, build core strength, improve your balance and reduce risk of further injury.
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With thanks to South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
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