Low back pain
Signs and Symptoms
1. Pain low in the back, possibly severe. It may come on suddenly or slowly; it may be constant or occur only at certain times of the day or when your are in a certain position; it may be confined to one place or move to other parts of your back.
2. Numbness, stiffness, tingling, or a shooting pain in your legs or buttocks, usually on one side only.
3. Pain that is aggravated by coughing, sneezing, or twisting.
Call a doctor immediately if you also have these symptoms of nerve damage:
1. Any numbness or weakness, especially numbness around your groin or rectal area.
2. Trouble controlling your bladder or bowels.
3. Weakness in one or both legs.
What to do now
1. If back pain disturbs your sleep, put pillows beneath your knees and place a pillow between them.
2. Don’t sleep on your stomach.
3. Use acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen.
4. For the first two days after back pain begins, apply an ice pack to the painful area for five to ten minutes at a time. After two days, apply heat from a heating pad or take warm showers.
5. If you have pain while driving, use a pillow or rolled-up towel to support the curve in the small of your back.
When to call a doctor
Go to an emergency facility:
1. If your back pain is combined with symptoms of nerve damage, particularly loss of bladder or bowel control.
2. If back pain is severe or disrupts your normal activities.
3.If the pain doesn’t go away within a few days or keeps coming back.
How to prevent it
1. Exercise regularly. Avoid exercise that twist or wrench your body, or anything that seems to make your back pain worse. Walking, swimming are ideal.
2. Do exercise to strengthen the abdominal muscles (always do sit-ups with your knees bent) Also, stretch the muscles that run parallel to your spine (lie flat on your back, pull one knee, then the other, toward your chest). Consult a specialist to develop a program that’s right for your and your back.
3. Try yoga. Both back pain sufferers and doctors give it high ratings for building strength and flexibility. It also helps your relax and reduce stress.
4. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
5. If you sit for long periods, make sure your work surface is at a comfortable height and that your chair provides good lower back support. Walk around for a few minutes every half hour or so.
6. Don’t lift and twist at the same time. Lift with your legs, not your back, and lift as little weight each time as possible.
7. Control your weight. A big belly puts strain on the lower spine.