10 Lifestyle Changes Help Prevent Lower Back Pain

About 80% of us will experience lower back pain at some point in our lives. Fortunately, lower back pain (LBP) usually gets better on its own. However, for some it may become an annoying recurring condition.

Lower back pain is not a diagnosis, it’s a symptom. We can’t always determine the underlying medical cause of lower back pain, but we can try to identify as much as possible about the root issues.

If you come to our office with back pain, we’ll start by getting your medical history. And we’ll perform a physical examination. If appropriate, we may do some additional tests.

Rather than just treating symptoms, the medical history, exam and tests will help us treat the underlying cause. This allows us to provide a better outcome.

 

Acute Lower Back Pain

LBP typically gets better in a few days or weeks. We call these cases acute LBP. The causes of acute LBP are usually difficult to identify. The cause is often ‘strain’ or ‘sprain,’ meaning muscle or ligament-related pain. We usually don’t need to find the root cause since it goes away in matter of days to weeks.

 

Chronic Lower Back Pain

When LBP lasts longer than three months, we call it chronic lower back pain (CLBP). Causes of CLBP are difficult to identify. However, we should always try to find the causes.

The careful process of finding the cause can help assure that there isn’t a life-threatening condition. We can eliminate concerns about paralysis or becoming wheelchair bound. We can also establish that you can continue to work and exercise, even if you are in pain.

You may be asked to provide a complete patient history. We’ll conduct a physical examination and, when appropriate, imaging tests such as MRI or CT scan. The specialized tests can help us find the causes of chronic LBP.

Research continues to give us a better understanding of CLBP. Genetics may play a major role as an underlying cause. So, choose your parents carefully!

 

Preventing Lower Back Pain

You can reduce the chances that you experience lower back pain by making these positive lifestyle changes.

  1. Eat healthfully so you keep your body weight within a healthy range.
  2. Get regular exercise to keep your back muscles fit and flexible.
  3. Avoid prolonged sitting.
  4. When you do sit, maintain good posture.
  5. Use proper techniques for lifting (lift with your legs rather than your back).
  6. Avoid frequent bending and twisting. Especially avoid bending, twisting and lifting at the same time (like shoveling snow).
  7. Avoid situations where your spine is vibrated for long periods of time.
  8. Get enough sleep each day.
  9. Stop smoking.
  10. If you have depression and/or anxiety, visit with your health care clinician about ways to manage it.

Ask your health care professional for guidance about steps we’ve mentioned for preventing lower back pain.

 

When Should You See a Health Care Professional?

If you have back pain that doesn’t improve within about six weeks, see your health care clinician or a back specialist.

See a clinician immediately if:

  • The pain becomes intolerable.
  • You develop leg numbness or weakness.
  • You have difficulty in controlling bladder or bowel.

For lower back, shoulder or knee pain, request a free injury evaluation from select Aurora locations. Just complete the short online form to get started.

 

Treating Lower Back Pain

If you suffer from lower back pain, treatment may include:

 

Need an appointment with a health care professional? Schedule one online. Don’t have a doctor, you can find one online, too!

Meet the Author

Mustafa Farooque, MD is board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and fellowship trained in musculoskeletal spine and sports medicine at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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