How to manage your low back pain

How to manage your low back pain

Things that you can do yourself to control your pain (like staying active and mindfulness) are more likely to help than treatments that are done to you (like surgery or massage). Here are some simple strategies that may be helpful for all people with back pain. Stay active The best treatment for most back pain involves staying active and carrying on with normal activities wherever possible. Avoid resting in bed for long periods of time. Avoiding long periods of bed rest will improve recovery. Regular physical activity based on your preference (150 minutes per week) is important for all aspects of your health. Move with confidence During an episode of back pain, the muscles in your back tense up and movements become stiff. Relaxation and movement exercises can help you learn how to relax your back and move with confidence. Be kind to yourself / focus on your mental wellbeing While back pain can be very painful, distressing and limiting, keeping a positive mindset can help you get better. Set activity goals Activity goals can be anything that makes you feel motivated and that you are comfortable with (for example, walking or swimming). Start small and gradually increase the distance, speed or number of times you do the activity. Stay involved Staying engaged with work, friends, leisure and social activities are important to your recovery. Try to remain at work, or get back to work or usual activities as soon as possible. Develop healthy sleep habits Getting enough sleep is important (more than seven hours). Avoid strong light and screens, caffeine or strenuous exercise right before sleep. Sit and stand comfortably There is no ideal posture for back pain, but relaxed postures, varying your posture and breaking up sitting and standing periods are all helpful. Apply heat If your pain is worse some days or following activity, you can use heat (such as hot water bottles, heat wraps or a hot bath) to try to keep your pain at a manageable level. Use pain medicines carefully The aim of taking medicines is to reduce pain to help you stay active, rather than to completely stop it. Simple over-the-counter pain medicines may help in the short-term to get you moving. Check with your doctor or pharmacist which medicine is suitable for you. Sources: Adapted from O’Sullivan et al. MyBackPain and NPS Medicinewise. Consumers should use this resource as a guide to inform discussions with their healthcare professional about how it applies to their individual condition. The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care does not accept any legal liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by the use of, or reliance on, this document. Link to this Aus Care Standards Sheet as reference  - or even provide it as a downloadable if possible https://drive.google.com/file/d/13e-AZ15Vj5glyYE5fSgOE8mUsKTnevje/view?usp=sharing  Credit the Aus Care standards website https://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/standards/clinical-care-standards/low-back-pain-clinical-care-standard#low-back-pain-clinical-care-standard 

Common questions about low back pain

Common questions about low back pain

What is low back pain?  Low back pain refers to pain felt in the lower part of the spine (lumbar spine), and can be accompanied by pain in one or both legs. Back pain often feels bad, but for most people hurt does not mean harm or damage. Back pain often comes on quickly (acute pain), but then improves or goes away within three to six weeks. However, it is common for it to come back, with some people going on to develop more persistent or chronic pain (that lasts for more than three months) Could my back pain be serious? Most people with back pain do not have any significant damage to their spine. The pain comes from the muscles, ligaments and joints. In a very small number of people (around 1%), back problems are caused by a serious condition such as cancer, inflammatory problems, infection, fracture or compression of the nerves in the spine. However, this is very rare and your clinician will check for these causes. Do I need imaging to make sure my back is OK? Most back pain can be managed well without doing tests or imaging to find a specific cause. Your clinician will only refer you for tests if they think there may be a more serious cause for your back pain. Otherwise, in most cases imaging (such as X-rays, CT or MRI scans) is not recommended because: It is unlikely to change how your condition is managed It often shows changes that are normal for your age and may not be causing your pain It can be expensive Some scans involve exposure to radiation. How can mood or stress affect my back pain? Many things can contribute to your experience of pain, including your general mood, your beliefs about pain, financial problems, anger, depression, job dissatisfaction, family pressures, and stress. It is important to treat emotional distress as well as the physical causes of your pain. Completing some simple questionnaires can help identify the best treatment and support. Ask your clinician about this as soon as possible. Should I lie down when my back hurts? Too much rest is unhelpful. Avoiding long periods of bed rest will improve recovery. Remember that your back is strong and designed to move. Try to stay active and get back to your normal activities including exercise and work, as soon as you can. You may need to increase your activity gradually. What if my pain is not getting better? Speak with your clinician if your low back pain gets worse instead of better or if new symptoms appear. See your clinician urgently if you experience problems with controlling urine or bowel movements, numbness or weakness in your legs, back, genitals or anywhere else. Where can I get more information? Learning about back pain is an important part of getting on top of it, and lessening the chance of it coming back. Here are details of useful resources and other organisations that can help. Websites providing evidence-based information and advice include MyBackPain and painHEALTH Helplines and support groups are available through Musculoskeletal Australia and Pain Australia. Questions? If you have any questions about your low back pain talk to your clinician.  Link to this Aus Care Standards Sheet as reference  - or even provide it as a downloadable if possible https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oGb9HsYALXih1T661g9s2q_gwHKcReMG/view?usp=sharing  Credit - Aus Care standards website https://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/standards/clinical-care-standards/low-back-pain-clinical-care-standard#low-back-pain-clinical-care-standard 

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