Do you have pain in lower back? Of course, you do have it otherwise why would your search for remedies to relieve lower back pain. The right question would be, since how long do you have lower back pain. And is it a mild pain or a sharp lower back pain? In fact, the symptoms of your lower back pain can only reveal the cause behind it. And when you rightly know the cause then only can you take right steps to get rid of lower back pain.
Causes of Lower Back Pain
These are the causes of lower back pain along with their typical symptoms. Find out the cause for your lower back pain by studying the symptoms and relating them with your condition.
1. Ligament or Muscle Strain in Your Back leads to Pain
Sometimes, when you lift a heavy object or twist your body or there is a sudden movement in your body, some of your back muscles and/or ligaments may over-stretch and tear themselves. These causes acute lower back pain. So, when you feel the below symptoms, know that your lower back pain is due to muscle strain:
- If it is very difficult and sometimes almost impossible for you to walk or stand.
- If you also have pain in your groin, buttock or upper thigh along with lower back pain. However, this pain doesn’t travel down your knee.
- If it is a dull pain and not a sharp one. When you touch the area, you can experience the soreness over there. The area also becomes inflamed.
- You also feel severe muscle spasms.
Resting can be one of the best ways to relieve such lower back pain. Ice pack and compression with something like a bandage is often recommended to relieve such lower back pain. Elevating the area of pain can decrease swelling and relieve pain.
2. Sciatica also causes Lower Back Pain
Sciatica is when your sciatic nerve gets pinched which leads to numbness and pain in lower back which travels down to your buttock, leg and sometimes till your foot. So, when you feel these symptoms, your lower back pain might have been caused by sciatic nerve pain:
- You lower back pain is an ongoing thing. It doesn’t flares up and then subsides. It is almost always there.
- While your lower back aches, your thigh and leg have more pain up to knee and sometimes even till your foot.
- You have lower back pain in left side or right side. Pain caused by sciatica is usually there on one side of your buttock or leg.
- Your pain gets worse after prolonged sitting or standing. When you walk, you feel lesser pain.
- You also feel other sensations along with a dull aching pain. These can be burning and tingling sensations as well as numbness.
- You feel weak or numb at your leg or foot.
Diagnosing the causes of sciatica is essential to get the right treatment to relieve lower back pain along with pain in your leg and foot. Once your pain is relieved to a considerable extent, regular sciatic nerve exercises and stretches need to be done for prevention of future occurrence of lower back pain.
3. Degenerative Disc Disease is a Cause of Lower Back Pain
It is one of the very common causes of lower back pain. It occurs when the lumbar discs between your vertebrae start breaking down. The damaged disc leads to swelling, pain, muscle spasms, and even sciatica in some cases. If you have the following symptoms of lower back pain, you might be carrying a degenerative disc.
- You have constant lower back pain which is mild. However, you witness regular episodes of severe pain and muscle spasms that can last from few days to a few months.
- You may also have chronic pain ranging from just nagging to a severe pain.
- Your pain gets bad when you sit. Even standing may give you pain.
- You feel relief in pain when you walk and run.
- Your pain is relieved when you change your position.
You need to prevent stress on your damaged disc. This can be done through proper ergonomics and posture. Certain lower back pain exercises also help relieve back pain due to degenerative disc disease. Right posture of sitting and standing as well as putting less pressure on discs eventually relieve low back pain and other symptoms of degenerative disc disease.
4. Isthmic Spondylolisthesis might be the cause of your Low Back Pain
When a vertebra in your low back slips forward on the disc space below it, you suffer from isthmic spondylolisthesis. This condition leads to deep low back pain due to compression of the nerve root, just like sciatica. The following symptoms tell you whether your cause of lower back pain is Isthmic spondylolisthesis:
- Deep pain in your lower back which worsens when you stand or walk.
- Your low back pain travels through your buttocks and back of the thighs.
- The pain gets bad when you bend backwards.
- Your legs stay tired and sometimes you feel numbness or tingling in them. Most of the time, it occurs when you are walking.
- Your hamstrings are tight so much so that it’s difficult for you to touch your toes.
- Your pain is relieved to some extent when you sit, especially in reclining position.
Heat and cold therapy as well as stretches are important in relieving such a lower back pain. Hamstring stretching and certain other exercise help a lot. Sometimes, chiropractic manipulation is also useful in reducing the pain.
5. Sacroiliac Joint Disease as a Cause of Lower Back Pain
Sacroiliac joints connect the sacrum located at the bottom of your spine with your hips on either side. When you move this joint excessively or too little then you can get a sacroiliac joint disease or dysfunction. It simply means lower back pain, sometimes accompanied by buttock or groin pain. These are the symptoms of lower back pain due to sacroiliac joint disease.
- It is actually an ache which is known as continuous, dull pain. It is not an acute pain.
- Not only in lower back, you have pain in your hips, groin, and thighs too.
- The pain worsens when you sit. It relieves when you lie down or even sit in a reclining position.
- Pain is also relieved when you change your position.
Ice packs, compression and support braces are used for immediate relief from pain due to sacroiliac joint disease. Chiropractic manipulation is sometimes recommended to make the alignment and movement of this joint normal. Rest is also important to treat such pain. Heat can be applied only when intense pain subsides. Controlled gradual physical therapy and certain lower back exercises are also essential to strengthen the muscles around your sacroiliac joint. Apart from these, gentle and low impact aerobic exercises are helpful in increasing blood circulation of the area which contributes in relieving lower back pain.
Apart from the above, there are some more causes of lower back pain including osteoarthritis of the spine, reformists syndrome, certain infections, spinal tumor, fibromyalgia, ankylosing spondylitis
and coccydynia. Depression and stress too may lead to chronic lower back pain.
Medical Causes for Lower Back Pain after Sleeping
This condition- lower back pain after sleeping- needs to be dealt separately. This is because when you get lower back pain after sleeping or during your sleep, there can be medical reasons as well as some other general causes for such a pain. Such a pain is sometimes called nocturnal back pain or nighttime back pain. When you go through it, your hurting won’t stop even when you lie down, no matter what adjustments you make. In fact, your pain may actually get worse while you try to adjust the best position for sleeping. There are various causes for such nighttime back pain:
- Mechanical problems with the spine such as degenerative discs.
- Injuries, sprains or fractures.
- Spine conditions like scoliosis (a curvature of the spine) and spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal column)
- Kidney stones
- Certain cancers
Sometimes you sleep well without any pain but when you get up, you have a back pain. What can be causing such a back pain after sleeping. These are non-medical causes.
Non-medical Causes of Lower Back Pain after Sleeping
In such a condition when you experience lower back pain only after sleeping and if it goes away as soon as you leave the bed not to occur again during the day, you should check your mattress or your sleeping position. Here are some pointers on what causes lower back pain after sleeping.
- Mattress- too hard or too soft mattress will cause back pain that you will realize only after you get up in the morning. Get a medium-firm mattress. You can also try sleeping on floor. This has helped many but is not a sure-shot way to avoid back pain. It might work in your case, or not!
- Pillow- a pillow that doesn’t support your neck in a natural way affects your spine in a negative way to give you a back pain.
- Sleeping position- Your sleeping position is also important in keeping you pain free after you get up. If you don’t change your sleeping position very often during night, or sleep in a posture that’s not right for your spine or back muscles, you might get low back pain. Even sleeping on your stomach stresses your entire spine causing pain. So, what is the best sleeping position for lower back pain relief? Here they are!
Best Sleeping Position for Lower Back Pain Prevention
If you get back pain only after sleeping, the culprit might be your sleeping position. The best way to sleep with lower back pain is to sleep with your back in a neutral position. Neutral position means when your back is neither arched a lot nor is it flat. When you sleep like this- with a neutral sleeping position- it takes the pressure off your spine. Here are some sleeping positions that will not give you back pain in the morning.
1. Sleep on your side like this
If you have this habit of sleeping on your side, make these slight changes in your sleeping position.
- Draw your legs up slightly towards your chest.
- Try to keep your top leg from falling over your bottom leg. For this, take help of a pillow as described in the next step.
- Place a pillow between your legs. If possible, use a full-length body pillow.
- You can also place a small, rolled-up towel under your waist.
- Now sleep without the worry of getting back pain in the morning.
2. Sleep on your back like this
If you sleep on your back, do the following:
- Put a pillow under your knees. This will help maintain the normal curve of the lower back.
- If you are uncomfortable with pillow under your knees, take a small towel, roll it and place it under the curve of your back.
- Use a pillow under your head to support your neck too.
3. Sleep on your stomach like this
Don’t sleep on your stomach. This is the worst sleeping position for low back pain as it puts tremendous pressure on your back. However, if you can’t sleep in any other position, do the following:
- Place a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen.
- Place a pillow under your head but only if it does not strain your back. If it causes strain there, try to sleep without a pillow under your head.
There is also a proper way to rise from bed so that you don’t get a back pain:
- When getting up from the bed, roll onto your side and bend both your knees.
- Now drop your feet over the side of the bed while you push with both arms to sit up.
- Scoot to the edge of your bed and position your feet under your buttocks.
- Stand up while keeping your back in the neutral position.
How to Relieve Lower Back Pain with Stretches and Exercises
Activity is often the best way to get rid of back pain. Even as simple an exercise as walking helps you get up from sitting position and puts your body in a more neutral position- in an upright position. However, when you get flare-ups and episodes of acute pain, avoid exercising without the advice of your doctor or physical therapist. When your pain subsides, start doing the lower back exercises to prevent such future flare ups.
Lower Back Pain Relief Stretches
Here are some stretches for lower back pain that will help manage your back pain on a day to day basis.
1. Knee to Chest Stretch
- Lie on your back.
- Bend your knees while keeping your feet flat on the floor.
- Hold your left knee with both of your hands.
- Pull up this knee and press it to your chest.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds.
- Return to your starting position
- Repeat with your right leg
- When you come back to your starting position, hold both of your knees with your hands and press them to your chest.
- This completes one set- left leg, right leg and both legs together
- Do 2-3 sets twice a day, preferably in the morning and at night.
- This stretch is also one of the yoga poses for lower back pain known as ‘ardha pavana mukta asana’
2. Side Stretches
- Lie on your back and bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor.
- Your shoulders should firmly keep touching the floor
- Roll your bent knees to the left side
- Hold for 5-10 seconds.
- Return to the starting position
- Now roll your bent knees to the right side
- This completes one set.
- Repeat 2-3 sets of side stretch twice a day, preferably in the morning and at night.
3. Back Stretch while Sitting
- Sit on a stool or a bench or chair without arms.
- Keep your right leg crossed over your left leg.
- Take your left hand towards the right leg and bracing your left elbow against the outside of your right knee, twist and stretch to the side.
- Hold for 8-10 seconds.
- Repeat with the left leg crossed over right leg.
- Repeat 5 times with each leg.
4. Hip Stretch
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Take a half-step backwards with your right foot
- Bend your left knee and shift your weight back to the right hip.
- While keeping your right leg straight, bend forward some more to reach down the right leg until you feel a stretch in your outer hip.
- Repeat with the other leg
- Do 2-3 times with each leg.
5. Hamstring Stretch
- Lie on your back.
- Lift your left leg, as high as you can. While your leg remains raised, keep your pelvis flat on the floor.
- Keeping the leg straight in raised position, hold your lower thigh with both your hands.
- Pull the leg toward your upper body. You will a stretch in your hamstring.
- Hold for 10 seconds.
- Come back to starting position.
- Repeat with the right leg.
- Do 2-3 times with each leg.
Please consult your doctor before starting any exercising or stretching programme.
Yoga for Lower Back Pain
There are certain yoga poses for lower back pain that can relieve your pain effectively.
1. Kati Uttanasana – Yoga Pose for Lower Back Pain
- Lie on your back.
- Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor.
- Hands should remain at your sides with palms down close to your hips.
- Shoulders and buttocks should touch the floor.
- While breathing in, lift your waist up. Your shoulders and buttocks remain touched with the floor. Stomach goes up while you raise your waist.
- Hold for a few seconds and come back to the starting position.
- Repeat 3-5 times.
2. Markat Asana- Yoga Pose for Lower Back Pain
- Lie down on your back.
- Stretch your hands to the sides and keep them straight at your shoulder level, palms up
- Bend your legs from the knees.
- Knees and toes will remain joined and feet flat on the floor.
- While inhaling, turn your legs to the right. Right leg will now rest on the floor on your right side and left leg will be on top of right leg.
- Turn your neck towards left, to the opposite direction of your legs.
- Hold for 5-10 seconds.
- While exhaling, come back to your starting position.
- Repeat with the left leg, rolling over the left side and neck kept turned towards the right.
- Now do the second pose of markat asana.
- Keep your bent knees hip width apart. Feet also at hip width, flat on the floor.
- Now while inhaling, turn your legs towards right.
- Right leg will rest on the ground and left one above the heel and toes of the right leg.
- Turn the neck towards the left side, in opposite direction.
- Hold for 5-10 seconds.
- While exhaling, come back to the starting position.
- Repeat in the left side.
3. Makarasana – Yoga Pose for Lower Back Pain
- Lie down on your stomach.
- Rest the palms of your both the hands below your chin. Elbows resting on ground give support. The posture resembles making a cup with your palms and resting your chin over it. Finger and thumbs will touch your cheeks.
- Elbows on ground should be joined together.
- Keep your feet joined together.
- Bend your left leg from the knee and bring it up to touch your ankle to the left hip. Raise as far as you can.
- Hold for 5-10 seconds.
- Come back to the starting position.
- Repeat with the right leg.
- Do 3-5 times with both the legs.
- Now bend both the legs and bring them up together to touch your hips.
- Hold and come back to the starting position.
- Repeat for 3-5 times.
These were some lower back pain relief exercises that included lower back stretches and yoga poses for lower back pain. Doing them will help you keep your back and spine healthy. However, you should always learn yoga from an expert yoga practitioner and also consult your doctor before doing any exercise for lower back pain.