Lifestyle Changes to Manage Chronic Low Back Pain

lbpLow back pain is one of the top reasons for decrease in work productivity. It can be debilitating, it can confine a person in bed. Chronic back pain, which is defined by more three months of continuous pain, can have greater impact on a person since it is more difficult to determine and is also usually progressive.

Causes of Low Back Pain

Generally, low back pain is caused by impingement or irritation to the nerves exiting at both sides of the spine. This condition can be brought about by various diseases such as disc degeneration, sciatica, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, disc bulges, and other musculoskeletal irregularities. It can also be due to muscle strain brought about by improper body mechanics.

Managing Chronic Low Back Pain

When diagnosed with chronic low back pain, do not rely on medication alone to relieve your pain. Apart from physical therapy, there are certain lifestyle modifications that you need to do.

1.      Improve posture and practice proper body mechanics.

A sedentary desk job can cause low back pain because of the pressure exerted on your back when you sit on your desk all day. To relieve your back from pressure, occasionally stand and stretch for a few minutes. Avoid slouching. Get yourself a comfortable chair with a sturdy back rest. When lifting objects or picking something off the floor, squat instead of bending at the waist to avoid accidental disc bulges.

2.      Lose weight.

Excess weight can also cause additional strain on your back. This is especially true if you have a large belly that can pull your center gravity forward leading to bad posture. You can maintain a healthy weight by doing aerobic exercises. Supplement it with Yoga or Pilates to help strengthen your core and back muscles as well as maintain flexibility of your musculoskeletal system.

3.      Sleep right.

Improper posture when sleeping can cause back pain too. To relieve pressure, always see to it to maintain sleeping positions that can decrease the arch on your back. For back sleepers, put a pillow under your knees. If you sleep on your stomach, put a pillow on your hips. However, the most ideal sleeping posture is on your side, knees bent and with a pillow between your knees. Also choose a firm mattress that can support your back efficiently.

4.      Quit smoking.

Not many people realize that smoking can decrease blood circulation and slow down healing. If your low back pain is caused by injuries to the spine, it would be best avoid smoking until your condition improves.

5.      Continue your physical therapy exercises at home.

Your doctor would most likely refer you to physical therapy to help alleviate your low back pain. Some of the treatments includes back and abdominal exercises and stretching. Once you are clear from physical therapy sessions, do not stop doing the prescribed exercises at home. Ask instructions from your physical therapist and continue those strengthening and stretching exercises at home until your condition improves.


Photo credit:  erikogan on Flickr


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