Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler’s educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
THE TAKEAWAY: Age or being overweight isn’t a guaranteed back pain sentence. And, back pain shouldn’t be blown off as simply a side effect of these issues. Losing excess weight is always a good idea for overall health, but having LBP while overweight doesn’t mean you won’t have future bouts of back pain after losing the weight.
Built in lumbar support can also be a red flag. While some built in lumbar supports can be useful, they are limited by their inability to be transported. They also tend to have less structural support, and are thus less effective than traditional lumbar supports.
The types of lumbar support can be achieved using posture braces and support, belts, cushions and/or pillows. The most popular ones are the molded cushions or pillows that sit in the curved small area of your back. The D-shape cushions do the same. You can also try the roll-type cushion or pillow.
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Foundation Training exercises are simple but powerful structural movements that help strengthen and realign your body posture and address the root cause of lower back pain, which is related to weakness and imbalance among your posterior chain of muscles that are caused by a sedentary lifestyle and too much sitting.
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For back pain that is so severe that you need prescription painkillers, be sure to follow the usage guidelines. These medicines may have more unwanted side effects in the long run. The National Safety Council reports that people who treat back pain patients with opioid medications are more likely to have back surgery.
Disc herniation: A herniated disc is a rupture or tear of the cartilage that surrounds the vertebral discs. Pressure from the vertebrae above and below the affected disc squeezes the cushioning substance (nucleus pulposus) out of the disc. The nucleus can press against spinal nerve roots. This can cause severe leg pain and may cause nerve damage if not treated properly.
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Dr.McGill recommends “strengthening the core muscles responsible for protecting the spine instead of stretching our hamstrings. This does not mean doing hundreds of repetitions of crunches or other spine-bending exercises since those with back issues tend to have more motion in their backs and less motion and load in their hips.”
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Ankylosing spondylitis: Symptoms and early signs Ankylosing spondylitis may begin in the spine but what is it, what are the symptoms, and how is it diagnosed? What are the causes and complications? Read now
Several risk factors have been identified for the development of LBP in individuals who are required to sit throughout the majority of their work day. These include prolonged muscle contractions [3,4], vibration , and sustained body postures. Postures outside of neutral are particularly troublesome [3,6-9] as they lead to prolonged low level muscle contractions  and changes in intervertebral disc pressures [8,10]. During sitting, the lumbar spine flattens and there is posterior migration of the nucleus . The pressure on the disc increases [8,10] and there is increased passive strain on the posterior spinal elements [12,13]. The seated lumbar pressures may be minimized by maintaining the natural lordotic curvature [8,14].
Many apps and devices exist that can help you enhance your posture. If you work at a computer all day, try the software and app Posture Man Pat. This free app interacts with the webcam on your screen, tracking where your face is relative to your screen. If your posture starts to droop and curve, the app will alert you.
Dr. McGill says, “The first step in any exercise progression is to remove the cause of the pain. For example, flexion-intolerant backs are very common. Eliminating spinal flexion exercises (like sit-ups, crunches, and burpees), particularly in the morning when the disks are swollen after bed rest, has proven very effective with this type of issue.”
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are the mainstay of medical treatment for the relief of back pain. Ibuprofen, naproxen, ketoprofen, and many others are available. No particular NSAID has been shown to be more effective for the control of pain than another. However, your doctor may switch you from one NSAID to another to find one that works best for you.
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The most frustrating aspect in the treatment of back pain is that if often takes time for symptoms to resolve. Most individuals recover completely by simply avoiding stress to the back. Patients often find help from ice, heat, and medications. If the basic treatments for back pain do not relieve your symptoms, the next step is to seek medical evaluation.
Talmage, J; Belcourt, R; Galper, J; et al. (2011). Low back disorders. In Kurt T. Hegmann. Occupational medicine practice guidelines : evaluation and management of common health problems and functional recovery in workers (3rd ed.). Elk Grove Village, IL: American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. pp. 336, 373, 376–377. ISBN 978-0615452272.
This is a common misconception with back supports in general. A back support cushion just provides support and promotes good posture, ridding you of the bad sitting habits. It does not weaken muscles but supports over-exerted ones while helping you strengthen weaker ones by making you sit up straighter.