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All Posts Tagged: Lower Back Pain

Ice vs. Heat: reviewed by Dr. Herner

Should I use ice or heat for my injury? How long should I leave it on? These are common questions I hear a lot around the office.

In short, it depends on your goal.

Ice provides very effective pain relief for acute pain including relief of muscle spasm and sprian/strains. It also may reduce swelling. Remove once the area is numb to prevent frost bite.
Heat helps to relax muscles and can be a soothing way to improve ranges of motion. The effect of heat are generally more temporary than ice.

A word of caution regarding heat: never fully immerse the area in heat (ie. hot tub) when experiencing acute back spasm as this may cause rebound spasm upon exiting a hot tub.

I am happy to discuss your unique condition with you to determine which application best suits your needs.

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Herner Chiropractic - Lower Pack Pain

7 Steps of Preventing Lower Back Pain

  1. Avoid prolonged sitting
  2. Get regular sleep
  3. Participate in regular aerobic exercise
  4. Maintain a healthy weight with a balanced diet
  5. When lifting, keep loads close to your torso
  6. Don’t smoke
  7. See your chiropractor to identify risks that may be unique to you

Causes of Low Back Pain

Although the causes of low back pain are varied, the causes of low back pain can put into 3 major categories. To “triage” low back pain into one of these categories is the first step taken by a chiropractor.

  • Non-musculoskeletal low back pain. This accounts for <1% of all patients with low back pain presenting to all health care professionals, but has the most serious potential health risks. Viscera (or simply the organs in our body) can produce pain that we feel in our back. For example, the aorta (the largest vessel that comes from the heart) can dilate (or expand abnormally) and put pressure on the spine causing pain. This is also called an aneurysm and can be potentially life threatening. Other examples of non-musculoskeletal low back pain may include infection, tumor, cancer, and visceral referred pain.
  • Neurogenic pain comprises about 10% of patients with low back pain. This type of pain is caused from irritation of nerves that supply the low back and lower extremities (legs).
  • Musculoskeletal low back pain. 90% of all cases of low back pain are considered to be musculoskeletal (pain that comes from irritated joints, muscles, ligaments, discs, tendons, and bone). Pain may be just in the low back or may radiate into the buttocks, legs and/or feet.

Just as any other physician, a chiropractor is trained to diagnose your low back pain. In addition to taking a detailed history, chiropractors may use various orthopedic tests , neurologic tests, imaging (x-ray, MRI, etc.), blood work, etc. to diagnose a patient’s condition into one of the above categories.

Musculoskeletal low back pain (90% of all low back pain) is the primary area in which chiropractors specialize. Research shows that chiropractic care is the most effective treatment when treating musculoskeletal low back pain.

Neurogenic low back pain (~10% of all low back pain) is also commonly managed by chiropractors and oftentimes includes co-management with other specialists (ie. neurologists, physiatrists, orthopedic surgeons, primary care, etc.).

With non-musculoskeletal pain (<1% of all low back pain), a referral to the appropriate specialist or primary care physician is made.

Chiropractors commonly work together with other medical specialists to help treat painful conditions. It is a misconception that you have to choose either a chiropractor or a medical specialist to help with your condition. Rather, by working together and maintaining open communication between the chiropractor, the specialist and the patient make for the best results.

Given the range of conditions outlined above, it is easy to see why pain that lasts for more than a few days should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional. Remember, only a qualified health care professional can diagnose your condition.

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Herner Chiropractic - Exercises for Lower Back

Exercises to Reduce or Prevent Lower Back Pain

Why Exercise When You Have Low Back Pain?

Most people know regular exercise will improve their appearance and general health, but few realize the positive effects that good physical conditioning can have on their low back pain. Many studies show dramatic improvements of low back pain in individuals who are physically fit.

In addition, the person in good physical shape is much less likely than the average person to injure their back during work or daily activities.

The benefit of exercise for your low back depends on 3 key principles:

  • First, you must attain satisfactory aerobic fitness.
  • Second, you should focus part of your workout on the muscle groups that support your back.
  • Third, you must avoid exercises that place excessive stresses on your back.

Ideal Aerobic Exercise for Lower Back Pain

The ideal aerobic exercise involves the large muscle groups of your body (arms and legs) in a smooth, cyclical fashion. Recommended exercises for people with low back pain include:

  • Swimming
  • Fast Walking
  • Cycling
  • Using a ski machine or elliptical exerciser.

You should achieve the appropriate heart rate (dependent on your age) for 30 minutes at 3 three times per week.

Of course, you should consult your doctor and review your aerobic program before getting started. He or she can give you the appropriate target for your heart rate during aerobic exercise. It is always optimal to approach your aerobic goals slowly, especially if you have not exercised recently.

Strenthening and Stretching: Essential When You Have Low Back Pain

Part of your workout routine should include stretching and strengthening the muscles of your low back, abdomen, pelvis, and thighs. Flexibility in these areas will greatly decrease the chance of further injury to the back.

By strengthening these muscle groups, the body’s weight distribution and posture are improved, resulting in less stress on the low back. It is best to perform these exercises after a good warm up, such as your aerobic routine.

Ask your health club staff or physical therapist for instructions on specific stretching and strengthening exercises to prevent back pain.

Avoid These Exercises

While the merits of good conditioning cannot be overstated, the wrong type of exercise may actually make your low back pain worse.

  • Activities that impart excessive stress on the back—such as lifting heavy weights, squatting, and climbing—are not advised.
  • In addition, high-impact exercises such as running, jumping, and step aerobics can aggravate a low back condition.

When walking, wear well-cushioned shoes with good arch supports and use a treadmill or a track made for athletics. Cycling on a recumbent stationary bike can relieve stress on the back.

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