Ok Ottawa, now that you know what type of back pain you have, we can tailor some specific tricks to help decrease your pain. If you have not identified your type of back pain, please refer to our previous post: Understanding Back Pain. The following tips is what I give all the time to my patients when I see them in my physiotherapy clinic in Barrhaven.
Type A: Back Pain With Sitting
One easy way to reduce this type of back pain is making sure that you have proper sitting posture.
- Make sure you are sitting in a straight back chair or office chair with lumbar support. You can use a roll of towel or a back roll and put it at belt level. Make sure you have your buttocks all the way to the back of the chair and have your back supported on a fairly stiff chair. Do not lean forward.
- Avoid chairs that do not have good back support (sofa, lazyboys, bean bags, etc.)
- Get up from a sitting position often and take a short walk whenever you can.
Avoid Sustained or Repeated Forward Bending (temporarily):
This is a good trick for people who injured their back very recently. I emphasize with all of my patients that this is only TEMPORARY. Do not avoid forward bending forever. You can do this for a few days and see if your symptoms decreases. If your symptoms still persist or get worse after a few days of avoiding forward bending. Contact your physiotherapist.
Type B: Back Pain With Walking/Standing
- Avoid standing with your upper body slightly leaning forward. That exponentially increases the stress you put onto your back.
- To increase tolerance to standing, put a small step stool in front of you and let one of your legs rest on it. Alternate often between both legs.
Avoid High Impact Activity (Temporarily):
I always suggest my patients to stay active as much as they can, despite the back pain. You can temporarily avoid high impact activity (running, jumping, etc.) for a few days and see if your symptoms improve. If they do not, please contact your physiotherapist.
Increase Tolerance to Walking:
- Sit down and take breaks often during walks.
- Stretch your back by bending forward and try to touch your toes. This should be pain free. If the more you stretch, the more it hurts, do not continue and call your physiotherapist.
Ottawa: When Should I Seek Professional Help?
You should contact your physiotherapist if:
- You have numbness/tingling or weakness in your back or legs.
- Your pain has started travelling down your leg.
- If despite these tips, your pain does not show signs of improving.
- Your pain has lasted more than a week since injury.
- You cannot be categorized in either of these 2 types of pain.
- It feels like this pain has affected your quality of life.
- You have chronic back pain and want to get off pain medications.
Go immediately see your doctor if you have:
- You have new bladder/bowel problems since the injury.
- Rapidly decreased strength and significant weakness in the legs or feet.
- Unexplained weight loss and personal history of cancer.
- Loss of sensation between the legs on the inner thighs.
Best Type of Treatment for Low Back Pain According to Science: McKenzie Method
A recent study reviewed the current research on low back pain and found that the McKenzie Method is superior and more effective compared to other treatment options for chronic low back pain. Ask your Physiotherapist if they are certified in the McKenzie Method. My clinic in Barrhaven specializes in treating back pain through the McKenzie Method. If you are in the Ottawa region, give us a call!
Here are some related articles you might be interested in:
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Many of us find ourselves waking up in the morning feeling VERY stiff. It sometimes takes quite an effort to roll out of bed and those first few steps might be stiff and sometimes even painful. Why is this happening? Is it the bed or pillow? Maybe it is age? Is it the way I sleep? Am I developing back or neck problems? Read More…
About the Author:
Lily Zhang is a registered physiotherapist with training specializing in the McKenzie Method. She graduated from McGill University and is currently working in Barrhaven (Ottawa, ON). She has over 10 years of professional training/clinical experience in orthopedic physiotherapy. You can Follow Her Blog @PhysioVive Facebook Page.