Back pain is common, with about nine out of ten adults experiencing it at some point in their life, and five out of ten working adults having it every year. Some estimate up to 95% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lifetime. It is the most common cause of chronic pain, and is a major contributor of missed work and disability. However, it is rare for back pain to be permanently disabling. In most cases of herniated disks and stenosis, rest, injections or surgery have similar general pain resolution outcomes on average after one year. In the United States, acute low back pain is the fifth most common reason for physician visits and causes 40% of missed days off work. Additionally, it is the single leading cause of disability worldwide.
Herniated discs develop as the spinal discs degenerate or grow thinner. The jellylike central portion of the disc bulges out of the central cavity and pushes against a nerve root. Intervertebral discs begin to by the third decade of life. Herniated discs are found in one-third of adults older than 20 years of age. Only 3% of these, however, produce symptoms of nerve impingement.
The lumbar support pillows on our list all include memory foam, which allows the pillow to conform to the natural curvature of your back and continue to provide the support you need. You’ll find a range of lumbar support pillows to make the time spent in your office chair much more comfortable.
^ Jump up to: a b American College of Physicians, Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question, Choosing Wisely: an initiative of the ABIM Foundation, American College of Physicians, archived from the original on 1 September 2013, retrieved 5 September 2013
Surgery for back pain is typically used as a last resort, when serious neurological deficit is evident. A 2009 systematic review of back surgery studies found that, for certain diagnoses, surgery is moderately better than other common treatments, but the benefits of surgery often decline in the long term.
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Health care practitioners rely on a variety of methods to improve the seated postures of their patients, and commonly lumbar support devices are prescribed. Numerous devices exist for use in office chairs or vehicles, including built-in static or variable controlled pads and lumbar support cushions [4,10,14-16]. A number of investigators have studied lumbar support pads and their effect on spinal posture and comfort [5,15,16].
This information has been developed and reviewed for Bupa by health professionals. To the best of their knowledge it is current and based on reputable sources of medical research. It should be used as a guide only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice.
It is important that the back be flush, because this is what provides the support for the lower back. Overall, the lumbar back support should keep the spine in a very natural position. It should not overly accentuate the inward curve, nor should it feel unsupported.
Ibuprofen (Advil, Nuprin, or Motrin), available over the counter, is an excellent medication for the short-term treatment of low back pain. Because of the risk of ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding, talk with your doctor about using this medication for a long time.
This tutorial has been continuously, actively maintained and updated for 14 years now, staying consistent with professional guidelines and the best available science. The first edition was originally published in September 2004, after countless hours of research and writing while I spent a month taking care of a farm (and a beautiful pair of young puppies) in the Okanagan.
Quit smoking. Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine, which can contribute to spinal disc degeneration. Smoking also increases the risk of osteoporosis and impedes healing. Coughing due to heavy smoking also may cause back pain.
Most of the lower back is made up from muscles that attach to, and surround, the spine. The spine is made up of many bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are roughly circular and between each vertebra is a disc. The discs between the vertebrae are a combination of a strong fibrous outer layer and a softer, gel-like centre. The discs act as shock absorbers and allow the spine to be flexible.
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The roll shape gives the cushion much smaller dimensions than the large, flat cushions we have seen thus far meaning it is far easier to carry around. The single strap works sufficiently well given the small dimensions and allows you to even fasten it around your waist. This means you can wear it and remove the hassle attaching and detaching it from chairs if you need to move around.
Kovacs, F. M., Abraira, V., Peña, A., Martín-Rodríguez, J. G., Sánchez-Vera, M., Ferrer, E., … Mufraggi, N. (2003, November 15). Effect of firmness of mattress on chronic non-specific low-back pain: Randomised, double-blind, controlled, multicentre trial [Abstract]. Lancet, 362(9396), 1599–1604. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14630439
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Treatment for low back pain generally depends on whether the pain is acute or chronic. In general, surgery is recommended only if there is evidence of worsening nerve damage and when diagnostic tests indicate structural changes for which corrective surgical procedures have been developed.
Some people immediately think of having back surgery just to alleviate the pain, but I strongly advise against it unless you’ve exhausted the other treatment options mentioned above. However, if none of these strategies work, I advise you to try K-Laser – it’s just that good.
The diagnosis of low back pain involves a review of the history of the illness and underlying medical conditions as well as a physical examination. It is essential that a complete story of the back pain be reviewed including injury history, aggravating and alleviating conditions, associated symptoms (fever, numbness, tingling, incontinence, etc.), as well as the duration and progression of symptoms. Aside from routine abdomen and extremity evaluations, rectal and pelvic examinations may eventually be required as well. Further tests for diagnosis of low back pain can be required including blood and urine tests, plain film X-ray tests, CAT scanning, MRI scanning, bone scanning, and tests of the nerves such as electromyograms (EMG) and nerve conduction velocities (NCV).
2016 — Science update: Added commentary on the “do not offer” acupuncture recommendation in the new NICE guidelines for back pain. [Section: The fascinating case of acupuncture, formerly a contender in low back pain therapy, but which has now miserably failed well-designed scientific tests.]
Sometimes a fake cure can help. A 2016 study published in the journal PAIN involving 100 people found that those with a placebo added to their normal medication reported pain and disability scores about 30 percent lower than their scores at the beginning of the study. In an interesting twist, those who were taking the placebo still felt better, even though they knew the drug was a fake from the very beginning of the study.
Whether you’re a weekend warrior, an elite athlete, or somewhere in between, there’s a strong chance that eventually you’ll deal with back pain, too. Here’s why: Everyday activities that you do without thinking — sitting at the computer, slipping on a pair of shoes, crawling into bed at night — can make or break your spine health. Most aches are caused by strains (injured muscles or tendons) or sprains (damage to the tough fibrous tissue, or ligaments, located where your vertebrae connect to joints). These injuries are typically brought on by overuse, a new activity, excessive lifting, or an accident. Other times, a compressed (aka pinched) nerve, such as in a herniated disk, is to blame for the ache.