Chronic Lower Back Pain Treatment Options
Updated: Mar 7, 2022
Low back pain is common, with 8 in 10 adults suffering from back pain at some point in their lives. While most people can manage back pain with over-the-counter pain relievers, there is another equally effective way to manage this pain: Chiropractic methods are one of the most effective and safest ways to treat back pain. If you have lower back pain and have never been to a chiropractor, we'll tell you common causes and the best treatments for lower back pain.
While many turn to medications for pain relief, this won't address the root cause. As a result, you'll be left with recurring back pain. Furthermore, overusing them can lead to unwanted side effects. Patients may undergo surgery as a last resort if they experience pain that interferes with daily activities. Surgeries are expensive and put you out of commission for a long time. Although managing and treating chronic back pain can be challenging, many natural treatment options are available to you. In this article, we'll discuss the common causes and how to treat lower back pain.
Chronic Lower Back Pain Causes
Chronic pain lasts for over three months and goes beyond the body's natural healing process. It can occur from a traumatic event such as an injury or an accumulation of wear and tear of your spine. There are plenty of risk factors that increase your chances of experiencing chronic lower back pain, such as being over 30 years old, overweight, pregnant, failing to exercise or being a frequent smoker, or being chronically depressed.
The initial cause of the back pain could've come from many incidents such as:
Poor posture over time
Twisting the spine or straining lower back when lifting a heavy object
Sports-related injury involving impact
Sudden movements trigger trauma or stress to the lower back, such as falling over.
Typically, chronic back pain occurs when the pain isn't subsiding after months. Here are the most common symptoms of chronic lower back pain.
Dull and aching pain in the lower back
Pain that travels to the legs, feet, and buttocks
Pain that gets worse after prolonged sitting
Pain that is worse after waking up but better after moving around
Pain that feels better once changing positions
Persist for months
Causes tingling, numbness, or weakness in one or both legs
Accompanied by unexplained weight loss
Chronic low back pain is often associated with a disc problem, articular problem, or nerve root irritation. Below are the common root causes for chronic back pain.
Degenerative disc disease: At birth, the intervertebral discs are full of water. As people age, discs lose moisture and wear out. As the disc loses moisture, it cannot withstand the stress and transfers stress to the disc wall, which can rupture and cause pain or loosening, leading to herniation. The disc can also collapse and contribute to stenosis.
Lumbar disc herniation: The gelatinous center of the lumbar disc can break through the hard outer layer and irritate the nearby nerve root. A herniated disc is filled with proteins that cause inflammation when they reach the nerve root. The inflammation and compression of the nerve cause pain in the nerve root. The disc wall is also rich in nerve fibers, and rupture of the wall can cause severe pain.
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction: The sacroiliac joints connect the sacrum at the base of the spine to each side of the pelvis. It is a sturdy, sedentary joint that primarily absorbs shock and tension between the upper and lower extremities. It can become painful if the sacroiliac joint becomes inflamed (sacroiliitis) or if the joint moves too much or too little.
Osteoarthritis: This disease is caused by wear and tear of the intervertebral discs and facet joints. It causes varying degrees of pain, inflammation, instability, and narrowing and can occur at one or more levels of the lower spine. Osteoarthritis of the spine is associated with aging and progresses slowly. It is also called spondylosis or degenerative joint disease.
Compression fracture: Fractures that occur in cylindrical vertebrae, where the bone loosens on its own, can cause sudden pain. This type of fracture is more common and is more common in older adults due to weak bones, such as osteoporosis.
Chronic back pain is usually associated with age but can also be the result of a previous injury. In some cases, it's challenging to pinpoint the exact cause of chronic back pain. It's important not to make hasty decisions or perform extensive medical procedures until you get to the source of your pain. If the cause of the pain is unknown or difficult to treat, your best bet may be to work with a Chiropractor to reduce flare-ups and keep the pain manageable with nonsurgical treatments.
Best Treatments for Lower Back Pain
It's common for someone to search online "how to heal low back pain fast." Relieving back pain can take anywhere between a few days to a few weeks, depending on its severity. Most people can find pain relief through natural treatments and prevention techniques. However, make sure to always consult with your physician or chiropractor before attempting these treatments. Sometimes what seems like inconspicuous back pain can be something more serious like a disc herniation or nerve damage.
Here are the best treatments available for lower back pain:
Back braces: These braces can be worn to provide comfort and possibly reduce pain. There is some evidence that the daily use of an inelastic corset with a physical therapy exercise program can reduce pain and speed healing.
Manual Manipulation: A chiropractor makes physical changes to the spine to improve mobility and reduce stiffness, discomfort, or pain. Hand pushing at different speeds and strengths is used to regulate the structures of the spine. Manual manipulation is a specific technique that uses quick thrusting motions to push a joint beyond its normal range of motion.
Acupuncture: This practice is based on ancient Chinese medicine and stimulates points in the body designed to correct the "qi" or vitality of the body. Adequate Qi is believed to reduce pain and discomfort in the body. During one session, thin needles are inserted into the skin for about an hour.
Mindful meditation: Meditation can help reduce pain sensations and reduce depression, anxiety, and sleep problems common to chronic pain—meditation techniques for pain relief range from deep breathing exercises to methods of refocusing.
Manual therapy: The chiropractor for back pain often also combines traditional spinal manipulation with manual therapies, including active release techniques (ART) and trigger point therapy. ART is a patented technique that involves the destruction of any scar tissue that might have formed in soft tissue or muscle through overuse.
The hardened scar tissue sometimes pulls on the muscles, causing pain. Trigger point therapy works in the same way: muscle knots created by overuse cause pain. By working with these nodes, the chiropractor helps patients reduce back pain.
Manual therapy can relieve muscle spasms that often cause lower back pain. It also allows blood flow circulation to the lower back, speeding healing by delivering nutrients and oxygen to damaged muscles.
Flexion-distraction technique: Widely used for disc pain that often accompanies leg pain, the flexion-distraction uses a special table to stretch the spine, while a pumping motion is used to flex it. This painless technique can provide significant relief while pulling the disc away from the affected nerve. Inflation and flexion help increase the space between the discs and move the gel-filled cushioning between the discs.
Soft wedges are placed under the patient's body, and the chiropractor uses gentle techniques and adjustments to nudge the disc away from the nerve. Wedges give gravity the ability to help alter the mechanics of the spine and allow the chiropractor to be more careful in making adjustments. As with flexion-distraction, if no improvement is seen, imaging is recommended, as well as referral to a spine specialist.
Physical Treatment: Some patients find physical therapy helpful after adjusting the spine to bring the bones back into place. Chiropractors often provide physical therapy to help patients strengthen their core, back, and abdominal muscles to keep their spine straight and healthy.
Lower Back Pain Exercises for Pain Relief
Exercise is the last thing you're thinking about when you have back pain. But, physical activity is an effective way to relieve pain faster.
Core exercises: Exercises like pelvic tilts and bridges strengthen the abdominal and back muscles that support the spine. The stronger these muscles are, the lower the risk of suffering from lower back pain.
Yoga: Research from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) reported that people who practiced adaptive yoga poses experienced less pain and disability, and their mood improved after six months.
Steady-state low-intensity cardio: Swimming and walking are also great ways to keep your back healthy and maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can lead to lower back pain because it puts more stress on your joints.
You can take preventive measures to relieve episodes and prevent future pain. Stretching and strengthening exercises for the back and abdomen are two of the best ways to relieve lower back pain. Strong abdominal muscles and hip flexors help improve posture, while strong gluteus muscles help support your back while walking, standing, and sitting. Having well-stretched muscles helps improve mobility.
Stretching helps improve your range of motion and reduces the risk of further injury. Before performing stretching, you should consider whether you have an injury or chronic condition. If so, you may need to adjust your stretching techniques. For instance, if you already have a strained muscle, trying to lengthen the muscle can cause further harm. Find a physical therapist who will assess health conditions and tailor a stretch program to meet your needs. With chronic conditions like arthritis or Parkinson’s disease, make sure to clear the new stretching regimen with your physician before you begin.
With that said, here are five practical exercises you can perform to provide instant pain relief, strengthen your muscles and increase mobility. Ideally, you'll want to perform these stretches throughout the day in the morning and night.
Knee to Chest Stretch
Lie down with your feet flat and your knees bent.
Use two hands to pull your knee into your chest.
Flex your abdominal muscles and press the spine onto the floor. Hold the stretch for five seconds.
Then repeat using your other knee.
Lower Back Rotational Stretch
Lie down with your feet flat and knees bent.
Turn your knees to one side and hold for five to ten seconds.
Return to the starting position and roll your knees to the other side.
Glute Bridges Exercise
Lie down with your feet flat and knees bent.
Raise your hips upward while flexing your abdominal muscles. Avoid overextending your back.
Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Take three deep breaths to help you sink deeper into the stretch.
You can gradually work your way to performing this exercise up to 30 repetitions.
Cat and Cow Stretch
At shoulder-width apart, place your hands and knees on the floor.
Arch your back up and pull the abdomen up as well.
Then slowly let your abdomen and back relax toward the ground.
Return to step one and repeat a few times.
Seated Lower Back Rotational Stretch
Sit in a stool and cross your right leg over your left leg.
Place your left elbow firmly against your right knee. Then twist to the side for a good stretch and hold for ten seconds.
Repeat the steps on the other side. Consider doing this exercise multiple times on each side.
Importance of Chronic Pain Management
A thoughtful chronic pain management plan will provide the patient with the pain relief they need and allow them to regain range of motion and mobility without injury as quickly as possible.
Anyone who has struggled with chronic pain for years knows that finding long-term relief can really be an uphill battle. They often cannot find long-term solutions without the risks of invasive surgery or prescription pain medication. That's why, when looking for a long-term solution, you need a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific chronic pain case.
At Natural Care Chiropractic, we develop an individualized treatment plan that depends on a wide range of patient-specific factors. This is the most optimal way to provide our patients with the long-term relief they deserve. Chronic pain can occur nearly anywhere in the body, and its root causes can arise from many separate or coexisting factors. For example, you may have been injured in an accident, or perhaps your chronic pain is related to a medical condition.
Because there are many causes, the right course of chronic lower back treatment can vary from person to person. For example, our team of experts can recommend two different, non-invasive treatments for those who suffer from back pain at work and those struggling with osteoporosis-related spinal degeneration. Simply put, there aren't two cases of chronic pain that are exactly the same, and treatment should not be the same.
You have a busy life and would like to return to it without the debilitating pain that makes even the simplest tasks difficult. That's why you need a personalized treatment plan! We know that every patient has different responsibilities. Therefore, we want our patients to return to their normal lives as soon as possible.
At Natural Care Chiropractic, we don't just go through trial and error to see which treatments work. Instead, we look at your medical history to determine what's best for your specific situation. Our goal is to find lasting results that will bring you back to life.
We can provide you with natural treatment options for acute and chronic back pain, as well as a comprehensive rehabilitation program to help reduce your discomfort and improve your quality of life. NCC specialists will perform a physical assessment and discuss your medical history and symptoms with you to discover the cause of your back pain so you can find the most effective way to treat your back pain. Contact us today to get started! Find out how a professional and caring team can help you get back to normal when it comes to pain relief.