Affecting men and women equally, lower back pain (LBP) is one of the most common medical complaints in the United States. The good news is that most LBP is sudden and short-term. However, if steps aren’t taken to avoid stressing your lower spine and its supporting parts, the discomfort you feel could become more disruptive to your daily life, and you may need to schedule an appointment with a Santa Monica spine surgeon. Luckily, there are some ways you can help your lower back and reduce your odds of being sidelined by pain.
1. Use an Adjustable/Standing Desk
Numerous studies suggest prolonged sitting can be a contributing factor to lower back pain. The main reason for this is because most people sit in the same position for hours at a time, especially when preoccupied with work-related tasks, which places constant pressure on the same muscles and leads to LBP.
Other than taking periodic breaks to get up and stretch, use a desk that adjusts from a sitting to a standing position. There are several models available, including affordable desk toppers and more advanced automatic designs. For times when you do need to sit to work, ease lower back stress by:
- Using a lumbar support cushion
- Sitting up straight
- Shifting your position periodically
- Using an ergonomically designed chair
2. Do Daily Hamstring Stretches
Located between the hips and knees, hamstrings are among the muscles that provide indirect support to the lower back. If these soft tissues are too tense or tight, stress can be transferred to the lower spine. Keep your hamstrings flexible by getting in the habit of doing daily stretches. Options include:
- Sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out as you lean forward
- Standing up and bending down so your hands are touching the floor
- Taking a step forward while standing as you press against a wall to create resistance
- Sitting in a chair and stretching out one leg and then the other while elevating each leg as much as possible
3. Sleep in a Semi-Reclining Position
Many people with LBP, especially those with lumbar stenosis, disc damage, or arthritis-related inflammation, report experiencing relief in a reclining position, which means the knees are elevated and supported while the upper body is slightly raised. One way to get into this position while sleeping is to use an adjustable bed or base, which is similar in design to a hospital bed. If an adjustable bed isn’t in your budget, consider:
- Placing pillows under your knees
- Using a bed wedge pillow to create a reclining position
- Putting a rolled-up towel under the small of your back to create extra support
If lower back pain becomes chronic (lasting 3-4 months or more), it’s usually due to overstretched, irritated, or damaged muscles, tendons, or ligaments or a structural issue with the spine or the spongy discs that cushion it. Making an effort to minimize common sources of long-term lower back stress in your daily life can reduce your odds of unintentionally doing some type of damage that leads to more than just occasional aches and pains.
If you are experiencing pain in your lower back, it could be related to your lumbar discs and you might need artificial disc replacement surgery. Santa Monica patients trust the expert surgeons at The Spine Institute to help them find relief for their chronic back pain. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule your appointment.