Chronic Low Back Pain

During the course of any year, up to 1 in 5 adults will experience some kind of back pain. However, if low back pain lasts for more than 3 months, it has become chronic low back pain. Read on to learn more.

What causes chronic low back pain?

The causes of most cases of chronic low back pain aren’t well understood. Although we know that some people develop chronic pain after an injury or surgery, most cases of chronic low back pain don’t have a specific single cause. However, your doctor will check for known causes of back pain, such as inflammatory disease, infections or fractures. Some causes include:
 
  • Spinal injury
    • Muscle injury
    • Fracture
    • Injury to spinal cord or nerve roots
    • Injury to joints, ligaments or discs
  • Spinal disease
  • Arthritis
  • Degeneration of discs
  • Inflammation
  • Infection
  • Cancer
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Pancreatitis
  • Kidney disease
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Diseases from elsewhere that cause referred pain to the back
 

What can I do?

The most effective way to manage chronic low back pain is a combination of self-management approaches plus help from healthcare professionals.
 
There are a number of steps you can take on your own:
  • Experts recommend supervised exercise therapy as a first approach to treatment. Talk to your doctor about physical therapy, exercise classes for people learning to cope with pain, or potentially some simple exercises you can do on your own.
  • Improve your pain and wellbeing by improving your day-to-day functioning. For example, try to maintain a healthy weight and don't smoke.
  • Learn to use relaxation and stress management strategies to help control your pain.
  • Get involved in a rehabilitation program, a multidisciplinary pain program and/or a support group.
  • Consider alternative treatments like massage, acupuncture or a TENS machine or prolotherapy (if the latter two are combined with an exercise program).
  • Treatments like heat or cold can be applied as creams, gels and patches as well as by hot or cool packs.
  • Some people benefit from a good mattress.
 

What can my doctor do to help?

Your family physician is the best person to help you navigate through the healthcare system and will know when to get additional testing or consultations:
  • They can identify and help you manage associated problems with your mood.
  • They can help you define specific goals, then determine the barriers and resources for reaching those goals.
  • They can help you to explore different treatment options for reaching your goals
  • They can advocate for you if you need assistance with forms, disability applications, a return to work plan or if you need help accessing other resources.
 
There is no single treatment that helps everyone, and most people benefit by using several approaches together.
 

Get moving!

The Canadian Physical Activity Guide states that to achieve health benefits, adults 18 to 64 years of age should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity (activity in which the body’s large muscles move in a rhythmic manner for a sustained period of time, such as walking briskly, running, swimming, bicycling) per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. It is also beneficial to add muscle and bone-strengthening activities using major muscle groups, at least 2 days per week.
 
The type of physical activity you choose and the amount of time you spend exercising may need to be adjusted according to your level of pain. It is very important that you speak with your doctor or healthcare professional before beginning a physical activity program.
 
The Canadian Physical Activity Guide also recommends that adults 18 to 64 years of age practise flexibility activities, such as yoga or stretching, 3 to 4 times per week.
 
Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional before starting a regular stretching routine. He or she may be able to offer you some guidance and/or instruction on what stretches to perform and how to perform them correctly, or will be able to refer you to another healthcare professional who can help you with this.

 
 

Set goals for yourself and work to achieve them

Take charge of your pain management. Print this page and jot down a few simple goals and discuss them with your pain management professional. Remember: start small—with each little step forward you’re taking a more active role in your treatment.
 
Physical activity/Daily activity
(e.g., walking around the block, grocery shopping)
 
I’d like to be able to:

 

 

 

 
Diet
(e.g., eating well-balanced meals, more fibre, vegetables)
 
I’d like to be able to incorporate:

 

 

 

Into my diet.
 
Connect with someone
(e.g., go for coffee, send an email)
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Other healthcare options
(e.g., specialist, physiotherapist,, acupuncturist, massage therapist)
 
I’m interested in learning more about:

 

 

 

 
Medication
(e.g., proper dosing)
 
I’m going to take my medication as my doctor prescribed and note its effects on my pain and function…

 

 

 

 

Important information

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This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.

 
 
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This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.

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