Low Back Pain – An Integrated Approach for Restoring Hope
This is how low back pain starts.
You rearranged the furniture. You moved to a new city. Your job ended unexpectedly. Slowly, the ache in your lower back increases. At first, it was manageable, but now, you feel drained.
Want to go on a road trip? No thanks, I won’t be able to stand up straight after hours in the car.
How about a hike? Nah, I’ll be paying for it for weeks!
Working pain-free? Are you kidding? Ibuprofen and many pillows are required to make it through 8 hours of sitting.
You google your symptoms – usually a mistake – and now the web tells you it’s got a sale on everything you need to replace – your shoes, your mattress, your pillows, your backpack, your chair, your desk. But which to choose? Some things helped but nothing fully solved the problem. The idea of going to a gym feels smart but also…scary. Not moving at all definitely makes things worse.
Months of “toughing it out” pass. You feel stuck. Exhausted. Maybe even a little hopeless.
Low back pain can be invasive, taking over every bit of life, manifesting on your face, and eliminating the joy of everyday things. When it happens to you, it feels like no one could possibly understand how uncomfortable and frustrating the situation is.
Studies show that low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In addition to that, the overwhelming majority of cases are deemed non-specific back pain. This means that there is no clear structural reason or disease that explains the pain. And while many things about back pain seem vague and inconclusive, one thing is sure – it will take more than one approach to address this multifaceted problem.
It can be easy to attach to the idea that one doctor’s appointment, one medication, or one workout will be the quick fix out of pain. You want to get on with your life – understandably. While a single modality may create significant progress, the ideal situation is one of continued care and maintenance that fosters improvement and helps prevent recurrence. Even when facing non-specific back pain, we can take a specific, intentional approach that includes a combination of disciplines and specialties.
On the road to recovery, look for practitioners who offer balanced, integrated care.
Integrated care approaches pain issues from multiple perspectives.
- Postural Alignment
When no structural issues appear in X-rays or MRIs, it’s time to consider the postures and movement patterns the body stays in most often. There is no perfect posture, but there is good reason not to stay in one posture for too long. Sitting at a computer or in a car all day, carrying a heavy bag on one shoulder, or only sleeping in one position can reinforce muscular imbalances. Manual therapies like acupuncture, massage, and gentle chiropractic care can help identify structural and muscular imbalances and start you on a path to healing.
Breath training can have profound effects on your posture, your ability to regulate stress, and your structural health – including pelvic floor and spinal health. Do you ever realize you’ve been holding your breath with your shoulders pulled up to your ears? Do you find that you “lose” your breath often? Does the idea of expanding your belly when you breathe feel foreign? When pain is present, holding the breath can become habitual. Not to mention, many adults hold their abdomen tight and only breathe in the chest and neck. A progressive breathing practice is powerful for managing stress and pain. It can also gently encourage healthy spinal movement.
In addition to manual therapies, it’s important to cultivate a movement practice that will help build strength, reinforce postural alignment, and increase mobility while taking your current limitations into consideration. Undoubtedly, it’s tempting to stop moving when pain rears its head. A better option is to take a gradual approach that slowly introduces new movements and addresses your specific needs. Often, low back pain improves by addressing mobility and strength imbalances in the body as a whole, rather than just the target area. A professional assessment and program designed to help you build strength and healthy movement patterns can be a powerful catalyst for healing.
Take note of changes in your digestion. Has your diet recently changed? Does your schedule make it difficult to eat or drink water throughout the day? Staying hydrated and fueling your body well is another facet of creating a low-back pain recovery environment.
High-quality sleep is often disturbed when back pain is active. It’s also an essential element of recovery. Sleep hygiene is a practice that is gaining recognition. This includes turning off screens before bed, reducing unnecessary light and noise, and structuring your schedule for optimum sleep.
- Stress Management
Evaluate and acknowledge the weightiness of your current life. In yogic philosophy, the lower back is where issues of security and creativity concentrate. It’s no coincidence that in times of job or financial instability and high-stress life events, the lower back often flares up. Part of a healthy approach to back pain is recognizing the current demands of life and finding ways to offload some of the stress of those demands.
If non-specific low back pain is currently hindering your life, then it may be time to seek help.
Well Balanced Center for Integrated Care provides chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage therapy, postural alignment, personalized strength training, and mobility training all at the same facility. Our clinicians strive to work together to create treatment plans that will keep you on a path of recovery.
Click HERE for research about low back pain from the WHO.
HERE, you can find a list of tips for improving your sleep hygiene.
To read more about breathwork, click HERE .