Low Back Pain That Won’t Go Away

“Oh…..for just one moment to be free from the shackles of chronic pain”
Anon

Nagging low back pain that never leaves us can bring about a sharp downturn in our well-being and have us dragging our feet through depression in no time.

People suffering from low back pain that lasts longer than 3 months are then said to be suffering from chronic low back pain.

In the United States, the direct costs associated with low back pain range from $12 billion to $90 billion per year and indirect costs range from $7 billion to $28 billion per year.

picture of the money and the cost of chronic low back pain

Along with the health care systems costs individuals will often spend $1,000’s and $1,000’s dollars on physiotherapy, chiropractors, osteopaths, massage and still they suffer from chronic pain.

However, very often it is the most simple of techniques that can bring about the largest results, and these techniques are often overlooked or simply ignored by many practitioners.

In this article, I will discuss 3 very important aspects of chronic low back pain which may be holding you back from recovery.

Sections

Aspects of chronic low back pain that can hold you back from recovery.

1. Avoiding spinal flexion before noon

Avoiding flexion before noon can help take the stress off the lower back at the time it is most vulnerable and help to decrease chronic lower back pain.

Researchers studied a group of people who were instructed to avoid spinal flexion for the first four hours of the day over the course of 6 months and they followed up with them again approximately 18 months later.

man flexing forward with low back pain

The results showed a significant reduction in pain intensity and number of days in pain and these results were still maintained by the subjects after 18 months.

All this was achieved by simply avoiding spinal flexion for the first 4 hours of the day.

2. Know your pain triggers

If you know what your pain triggers are you can take steps to avoid them and make your quality of life better.

Pain triggers can be nearly anything, and they can quickly make your day go from tolerable to miserable.

older man gardening with chronic low back pain

It is important you start to notice and record these things as the more triggers you can avoid, the more managed your pain can remain.

Here are some of the most common things that can trigger pain:

1. Anxiety and Stress
2. Bad Sleeping Posture
3. Overexertion
4. Temperature Changes
5. Overconsumption Of Alcohol
friends drinking at a bar chronic low back pain

I recommend people keep a daily journal and write down exactly what they did throughout the day and for how long.

This should cover everything from time sleeping to shopping for groceries to washing the dishes.

Along with the activity journal they should be marking their daily pain levels down as well.

old man journaling his pain triggers to help his chronic back pain

We are looking to keep a record of these events and pain levels so we can start looking for patterns and recurring events which set off our pain, essentially we are looking for our pain triggers.

Once we have found them we can learn to manage them better.

3. Catastrophizing

If you are anticipating your pain will get worse with an activity you may begin to avoid situations that you fear could worsen your pain. This is part of what is called catastrophizing.

Pain catastrophizing is a negative cognition related to the belief that the experienced pain will inevitably result in the worst possible outcome.

model showing the cycle of chronic low back pain and catastrophizing

The knock-on effect of avoiding the activity is your body becomes deconditioned meaning your muscles weaken.

This makes further activity harder as your body is not strong enough for it, which reinforces to your brain that you were right to be worried because the activity did cause pain.

There are many therapies that can help with catastrophizing such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness training.

diagram of cognitive behavioral therapy and chronic low back pain

These therapies help you to change the way you think about the pain and can help you to take control of it rather than the pain controlling you.

You can read more about cognitive behavioral therapy and its use in lower back pain here – CBT and Low Back Pain.

There are many reasons that your chronic low back pain may be sticking around like an unwelcome guest but don’t let it rule your life.

Start to record and note down your good days and bad days, observe what your pain triggers are, and try to surround yourself with positive activities.

If you are struggling to recover from low back pain issues then go and check out my Lower Back Pain Recovery Challenge today and take the first steps on the road to recovery.

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