New research finds that a yoga class designed specifically for back pain can be as effective as physical therapy in relieving pain. The yoga protocol includes gentle poses and avoids more difficult ones. Comstock Images/Getty Images hide caption
At the beginning of the data collection, participants were asked to stand in a neutral position “with their arms by their side, weight evenly balanced, and looking straight ahead”. Kinematic data were collected over 30 seconds of neutral static stance for comparison against the seated conditions. Participants sat in the office chair and in the same seat pan but with a lumbar support pillow (“Logic Back™”, Mediflow Inc., Toronto) to test the effect of the back rest profile on comfort and lumbar and thoracolumbar postures. The lumbar support is a portable device, convex in the anterior direction and contoured with an arched opening above the seat pan, that provides space for the bulk of the posterior pelvic tissues (Figure 1). The back frame of the device is constructed of a solid plastic, curved side-to-side and is relatively rigid. The frame acts as a bow which is strung anteriorly by four adjustable straps. These straps provide an elastic, anterior projection above the buttock tissues. A band affixes the device to the chair back. The lumbar support was “fitted” to each participant prior to testing by having the individual sit in the chair in a relaxed fashion, with the hips and knees flexed to 90°, feet flat and looking straight ahead. The pelvis was pushed all the way back into the aperture of the pillow, and the individual’s lumbar spine rested against the back rest. The straps were tensioned to participant preference.
BULGING DISCS: A landmark 1994 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 82 percent of study participants who were pain-free had positive MRI results for a lumbar disc bulge, protrusion, or extrusion. 38 percent of them had these issues at multiple lumbar levels.
Ramin wasn’t fully aware of spinal surgery’s poor rates of success when she decided to see a back surgeon for her own chronic back and leg pain nearly a decade ago. Then a freelance journalist, having just published a book on memory in middle age, she was frustrated and baffled by her own lack of progress, and her questions led her stumbling into a public health story that would take more than 600 interviews and eight years to write.
^ Hurwitz EL, Morgenstern H, Yu F (May 2003). Cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of low-back pain and related disability with psychological distress among patients enrolled in the UCLA Low-Back Pain Study. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. 56 (5): 463–71. doi:10.1016/S0895-4356(03)00010-6. PMID 12812821.
Paget’s disease of the bone is a condition of unknown cause in which the bone formation is out of synchrony with normal bone remodeling. This condition results in abnormally weakened bone and deformity and can cause localized bone pain, though it often causes no symptoms. Paget’s disease is more common in people over the age of 50. Heredity (genetic background) and certain unusual virus infections have been suggested as causes. Thickening of involved bony areas of the lumbar spine can cause the radiating lower extremity pain of sciatica.
De Carvalho and Callaghan  performed a radiological study on the effect of lumbar support prominences on spinal and pelvic postures in an automobile seat . An increase in the depth of the support prominence was noted to significantly increase the extension of the intervertebral joints of the lumbar spine . However, the investigators could not state whether comfort was affected over the long term and what changes could be expected in patients with LBP . Moreover, Makhsous et al.  noted that a backrest fitted to the lower spine and reduced ischial support improved the position of the spine in healthy individuals. The total and segmental lumbar lordosis was maintained, the sacrum was rotated forward, and the lumbar intervertebral disc heights were increased. Again, any changes in patients with LBP could not be established.
Pain in the lower back or low back pain is a common concern, affecting up to 80% of Americans at some point in their lifetime. Many will have more than one episode. Low back pain is not a specific disease, rather it is a symptom that may occur from a variety of different processes. In up to 85% of people with low back pain, despite a thorough medical examination, no specific cause of the pain can be identified.
Filling—for lumbar cushions is not the same as the filling for fluffy bed pillows. Lumbar cushions must be firm to support your back, not soft to sink into so your pain can suffer some more. Memory foam or foam in a good quality should offer you comfort yet be firm to support you. Some brands provide adjustable straps to wrap around a chair or car seat.
There is moderate quality evidence that suggests the combination of education and exercise may reduce an individual’s risk of developing an episode of low back pain. Lesser quality evidence points to exercise alone as a possible deterrent to the risk of the onset of this condition.
Spinal manipulation: Osteopathic or chiropractic manipulation appears to be beneficial in people during the first month of symptoms. Studies on this topic have produced conflicting results. The use of manipulation for people with chronic back pain has been studied as well, also with conflicting results. The effectiveness of this treatment remains unknown. Manipulation has not been found to benefit people with nerve root problems.
One-factor repeated measures ANCOVAs (baseline VAS measure as covariate) were used to identify any effect of condition (standing, lumbar support and standard chair) on VAS scores for each group separately (healthy individuals and patients with LBP).
Degenerative disc disease: Causes and treatment options Degenerative disc disease happens when one or more intervertebral discs in the spine breaks down, as part of the normal aging process. Find out more. Read now
Taking a step away from the conventional design of large flat cushions is McKenzie’s lumbar support roll with its rotund shape. At just over it is competitively priced and gives good support specifically targeted for the lower back.