woman with lower back pain sitting on couch

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Why does my lower back hurt?

  • Lower back pain is one of the most prevalent ailments in the US, with over 80% of the population experiencing back pain in their life.
  • Walking is the most efficient, effective activity you can do to help manage your back pain.

The outbreak of the coronavirus has triggered a work-from-home frenzy. Which has triggered aches and pains thanks to the haphazard ergonomics of homemade workstations.

“My back hurts! Now what?” It’s a question you may have asked yourself—and then asked Google. Overwhelmed by the number of results, you might just think, “Forget it!” and continue your workday with a nagging backache. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ease the pain.

While not all back pain is the same, this article will outline common causes and a few good remedies to manage lower back pain. 

What are the causes of lower back pain?

Your back is a complicated. It’s made up of bones, cartilage, muscle, ligaments and nerves. A problem with any of these can cause back pain. Many things can contribute to back pain, most of which can be addressed through at-home management or with the guidance of a health professional. Here are some common causes of lower back pain:

  • injuries to back muscles
  • injury or irritation to nerves
  • history of scoliosis or other abnormalities of the spine
  • arthritis
  • other causes including pregnancy or other non-musculoskeletal issues such as kidney stones

Left lower back pain vs. right lower back pain

You can feel low back pain in many different ways. You may notice that your pain is only on one side. Then you remember that you used improper lifting technique the other day when you had six loads of laundry to do – you probably just strained a muscle. This type of back pain often resolves with time and self-management.

You may also feel back pain across the lower back on both sides. This kind of pain can be a result of poor body mechanics in prolonged postures—like when you sat still, in an uncomfortable chair, during eight hours of meetings the other day. Plus, each of us is getting older every year, and this can result in a few more backaches here and there as well.

While most lower back pain can be attributed to a musculoskeletal injury (injury to muscles, joints, bones, for example), in a very few instances your back pain could be a result of something else, possibly related to internal organs. For example, a kidney stone could cause back pain, but it would also likely cause fever, blood in the urine or pain during urination.

Acute vs. chronic back pain

Acute lower back pain refers to pain that lasts a few days to a few weeks. It is the most common kind of lower back pain, and it usually doesn’t require medical attention. With a combination of rest, careful exercise, heat, stretching and other at-home remedies, you can treat most acute back pain and be back to your old self.

Chronic back pain is defined as pain that lasts three months or more, and it can be tricky to manage. Lower back pain is one of the most prevalent ailments in the US – with over 80% of the population experiencing an episode of lower back pain in their life. For more chronic, long lasting back pain, guidance from a health professional might be necessary. 

Relief for lower back pain

In many cases, you can reduce or eliminate lower back pain by doing some relatively simple things:

Take a walk

Walking is the most efficient, effective activity you can do to help manage your back pain. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate walking per day. In addition to fighting off chronic health conditions (like obesity, heart disease, and, yes, back pain), this can also improve many other health issues. Don’t have time to walk for 30 minutes? Walking even 10 minutes makes your back pain worse? No problem! A little walking is better than none. Do what you can.

Squeeze those abdominal muscles

Everyone is equipped with a muscle called the transverse abdominis. This muscle is your biggest supporter. Help it help you. Imagine you are pulling your belly button slowly and gently toward your spine. That’s it. You’ve engaged your transverse abdominis.  Hold this squeeze for 5 seconds, repeat 5 times, do this 5 times per day. Anecdotal evidence also points to improved fit of your jeans (which, let’s face it, many of us have not worn since quarantine started)!

Change positions

You’ve just glanced at the clock and found yourself sitting in one place for two hours without movement. It’s time to get up! You’re in a video meeting and can’t walk away from your desk? No problem! Just stand up, squeeze those tummy muscles (as above) and march in place for ten repetitions. Repeat next hour.

These are just a few ways to deal with lower back pain. If your lower back pain is more serious and home remedies aren’t doing the job, there are treatment options available. You can start by making an appointment with your primary care provider. Concerned that your pain is more severe, or worried that you may have injured your back? Check out Allina Health Urgent Care options.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • Get treated quickly at a walk-in clinic or urgent care

    Get care now

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