Lower Back Pain: What to Do and How to Prevent It

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies have shifted to a work-from-home set-up. Employees sit in front of their work tables and computers for long hours, more than they do in offices. As a result, they feel pain and discomfort in their lower backs. 

Studies have shown that 70% to 85% of the population will complain of lower back pain at one point in their life. The majority brush it off, thinking that it is a mild condition. But discomfort in the back may have a serious cause and can worsen if not professionally attended to. 

What is Lower Back Pain? 

Low back pain is felt at the end of the spinal column or the backbone. Most of the time, it is a benign condition resulting from having a sedentary lifestyle and resolves without intervention within one to six weeks. 

What Causes Lower Back Pain? 

The causes of lower back pain can be mild to severe. Here are some of them: 

  • Prolonged sitting or standing 
  • Improper posture while lifting a heavy object 
  • Back injury 
  • Ligament tears 
  • Spinal column problem 
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI) 
  • Kidney problem 
  • Arthritis 
  • Tumor 

Who is at Risk for Lower Back Pain? 

While pain in the lower back is more commonly reported by adults working desk jobs, there are people who are predisposed to it: 

  • Age of 55 years old and above or 18 years old and younger 
  • History of back trauma 
  • People with structural deformities, e.g., scoliosis 
  • Immunocompromised patients, e.g., with diabetes or HIV 
  • Family history of bone or muscle disease 
  • Patients with a cancer diagnosis 
  • Overweight and obese patients 

lower back pain

When to Consult a Doctor 

Lower back pain is usually relieved on its own with rest and pain medication. Pain that doesn’t go away after a week or two of at-home intervention may indicate a serious condition. Watch out for these warning signs and see a doctor immediately if you experience them: 

  • Persistence of pain for at least one month  
  • Pain that lasts the whole day, and gets worse at night  
  • Sudden weight loss  
  • Numbness or tingling sensation at the lower extremities  
  • Other symptoms such as fever, cough, chest pain, difficulty breathing, constipation, and difficulty urinating 

What are the Treatments for Lower Back Pain? 

The best intervention for chronic low back pain is to see a doctor. This option has become increasingly accessible throughout the years, thanks to telehealth consultations. You can simply book the most convenient time for you and attend the video call to speak to your physician. 

For a mild condition, you can try the home remedies below. If they don’t ease the discomfort after 72 hours, it’s best to seek professional evaluation. 

Alternate Ice and Heat Compress Method 

This remedy can be done every eight hours. Follow these steps: 

  1. Apply an ice compress to the lower back area for 15 minutes. 
  1. Remove and re-apply after 15 minutes. 
  1. After 48 hours, use a warm compress following the same interval.  

Bed Rest 

Take a break from your normal physical activity for a day or two. Get up slowly when needed to help ease pain and stiffness. After a complete rest, slowly increase your activity level. 

Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers  

Taking pain medications can also help lessen the pain. Try over-the-counter pills like paracetamol, ibuprofen, and mefenamic acid. 

How to Prevent Lower Back Pain 

Exercise and Back Stretches  

Engaging in light exercises, such as back stretches, for 15 to 30 minutes a day can help strengthen the back muscles. Regular exercise can also relieve a sedentary lifestyle and overweightness, which both put pressure on the body’s core and back. Try these workouts: 

  • Yoga  
  • Knees to chest stretch 
  • Partial sit-up 
  • Hamstring stretch  
  • Hip flexor stretch  
  • Squats 

Proper Posture  

Sitting  

While sitting, make sure that the hips and knees are on the same level on the chair while both feet are planted on the floor. A pillow or a rolled towel can be placed at the lower back for additional support.  

Standing 

Make sure to look straight and distribute body weight on both feet while standing. Avoid shifting body weight from one leg to the other.   

Lifting Heavy Objects  

Always lift with your legs and not your back. Before picking up an object from the floor, spread your feet apart and do a squatting position. Avoid bending your back to ensure that the force of the heavy object is distributed on both feet. Balance the object on both hands and refrain from tilting your hips.  

Consult an EVA Doctor 

If you feel discomfort in your lower back and would like to seek medical help in the comforts of your home, you can reach a doctor online through Eva Teleconsult.  

We have a pool of competent primary care physicians and telemedicine doctors that can help you understand and investigate your condition further. They can also provide a referral if they deemed it appropriate for you to be seen by a specialist. 

By: Dr. Chrissa Yutuc

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