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5 tips for managing low back pain

Last week, physiotherapists from the Holland Centre gave us some tips for preventing low back pain.

They also told us that 85% of the population will experience low back pain at sometime in their life (including me on occasion!)

For most people, it too shall pass. And, it doesn’t always mean the start of a lifetime of pain.

About 95% of low back pain is non-specific, meaning it is of an unknown cause, isn’t part of something serious, is isolated to the low back and doesn’t spread down the limbs.

If you experience low back pain, there are some ways you can manage it so that you can continue to live your life to its fullest. Thanks to Suzanne Denis, physiotherapist at Sunnybrook, for these tips!

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1. Bed rest is NO good. Pace yourself and stay as active as you are comfortable. Do exercises or activities that do not worsen your back pain and take breaks.  You may find certain activities actually help relieve your back pain.  Some people get relief with the trunk in a forward bend position others find it less uncomfortable to be upright.  Everyone is a bit different, and so not one exercise or activity is best for all.

2. Start low and go slow. When doing an activity you are not sure of, try 5 minutes & see what happens.  If you are not in more pain afterwards, gradually increase the time.

3.  Apply ice and/or heat. Typically, if you have suffered a trauma to the back (for example a fall), you should apply ice during the first 48 hours (For example for 10 to 15 minutes as needed.) Some low back pain sufferers find that applying a heating pad to the area provides more relief. Do not sleep with heat or ice applied.

4. Speak to your pharmacist about anti-inflammatory or other pain medications that you could use.

5. Track it. If your low back pain has not improved over a 2-week period, visit your family doctor or health care provider.


Tips for managing low back pain - infographic

About the author

Alexis Dobranowski

Alexis Dobranowski is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.