Lower back pain is one of mankind's most prevalent, persistent, and perplexing maladies. About 74 million Americans are affected with recurring back problems.

To understand why backs can ache, it helps to get acquainted with a 'lil anatomy. The core structure of the back is the spine, which sweeps in an S-shaped curve from the base of the skull to the small of the back and provides support for the entire body. The spine consists of a series of vertebrae (your bones) encased by muscles andligaments. Between vertebrae are shock-absorbing discs that help protect the spine form injury and permit the vertebrae to move freely.

The spine's design and construction permits flexibility and duribility. Yet because of the many joints and varied movement to which it is subjected, the spine, if not treated properly, can bebcome vulnerable to injury. The lower back area, composed of five vertebrae bears the greatest load and is the site of most back problems. Most back pain results from having bad "back habits" and being in poor physical shape.

I'm not a medical profesional, but have extensive experience with lower back pain. Here's what my chiropractor instructs me to do, however, readers would be well advised to consult their own physicians. With that said...

The two most common lower back ailments are strained muscles and sciatica. Depending on severity, either condition can be fairly debilitating. As far as home treatment, both respond fairly well to some simple measures.

My treatment includes ice pack therapy and an OTC anti-inflamatory (aspirin or ibuprofen). For sciatica I get relief by laying on the floor with my legs draped over the edge of a bed, sofa or chair. This helps take pressure off those painful pinched nerves. Heat therapy is not advisable for sciatica because the warmth will only cause the swelling in those damaged nerves to become worse.

Muscle strains can be eased initially with cold therapy at the onset, followed a day or two later with warmth (hot compresses, bath, heating pad). Muscle preparations (BenGay, Flexall, etc.) can also be beneficial, but never use them in conjunction with an external heat source as you can literally cook your flesh!


Like fugitive247, I'll have to start off with the standard disclaimer; I'm not a medical doctor; my only expertise about lower back pain is from personal experience. However, the following advise was given by a chiropractor, and helped me relieve the pain of a herniated disc after several years of playing basketball. If you have persistent lower back pain, see a doctor.

General Advise

First of all, prolonged bed rest may not be the best solution to resolve lower back pain. If the pain is caused by a herniated disc, bed rest for a long period can weaken the lower back and stomach muscles. These muscles support the spine, and they will result in increased back pain when weakened. It may be better to remain active, but you have to be careful with activities that put a lot of stress on your back. On the other hand, if the pain is caused by a strained muscle, bed rest could solve the problem.

Footwear: Wear sneakers, or shoes that have a lot of cushioning. Alternate pairs every day. Also, high-cut shoes (like basketball shoes and hiking boots) are not so good for everyday use, since they may weaken your ankles, and hinder proper foot motion.

Seating: if you have a desk job, make sure you have a chair that forces you to sit in a proper position. You could try one of those kneeling-chairs. I have had some positive results with these chairs, but it takes a while getting used to. Also, don't try these if you also have bad knees. Always be aware of your seating position.

Pain-killers: I don't know exactly what to tell you, since I try to avoid these as much as possible. If the pain becomes unbearable, I guess you could try them. On the other hand, pain killers may obscure the signals of your body that you should change your seating position, take a break from what you're doing, and/or lie down.


Two keywords are essential to beat chronic back pain:

Strength and Flexibility

Both strength and flexibility are equally important. You need to gain strength in the lower back and stomach muscles to give better support to your spine. Flexibility is needed to relieve the tension of impinged nerves in your spine (sciatica is a common problem with chronic back pain).

Ask a chiropractor about a good exercise program. Personally, I had positive results with the following exercises that give strength and flexibility to the target muscles. All these exercises are done while lying flat on your back.

  1. Hamstring Stretching
    With both hands clasped around one thigh, slowly straighten knee to feel a stretch in back of thigh. Hold for a fixed count and release. Repeat.
  2. Low Back Stretching
    Clasp one hand around each knee. Spread legs apart slightly. Pull knees towards armpits. Hold for a fixed time and release, but do not release knees. Repeat. This exercise can also be done with each leg individually.
  3. Sit-Ups
    Slowly come to a half-sitting position. Hold for a fixed count and relax. Repeat. Keep head straight to avoid strain on the neck.
  4. Bridging
    With knees flexed and arms across chest, lift hips from floor. Hold for a fixed count and relax. Repeat.
  5. Pelvic Tilt
    Flatten back, and then arch back. Repeat.

There are several machines in a fitness center that can help with chronic back pain. These machines target the muscles of the legs, stomach, and the upper and lower back. I recommend talking to your doctor first before attempting these.

And finally, the exercise that helped me the most: SWIMMING. I started swimming on a regular basis (4 times per week), and I instantly felt the benefits. After a while almost all the complaints disappeared. Swimming is a low-impact exercise that strengthens all the muscle groups in your entire body. Give it a try.

If you are a man, and you're having lower back problems, do you know what the problem most likely is? Been getting any lately? Been getting too much? Having too much fun with old lady thumb and her four daughters? Well,then, that pesky prostate glad is a thing which you must deal with, sooner or later. If this is your problem, you may be experiencing some difficulty when shaking hands with the umemployed. You can find out real quick by having a doctor or your significant other do the little "test" -- OUCH! If this is your problem, there is a new drug out called Hytrin. It is a miracle cure for enlarged prostate. The pain associated with this condition would be felt in the middle of your back and would radiate down your upper legs, if it was severe.

Now, if you feel this pain to the side of your spine, around your belt level (assuming you wear a belt; if you're a Sansabelt guy, then you definitely have the above condition), you have a problem with you sciatic nerve. (Hey, I'm no MD, so if this terminology is incorrect, don't hire a lawyer, OK?) In this case, a chiropractor can do you a world of good. In fact, it's probably the only thing a chiropractor is good for.

  1. When I was a kid my mom worked for a chiropractor.
  2. Going there was a treat for me, it was one of the
  3. few times in my life where I felt like I could breathe.
  4. The only time I went was after an asthma attack.
  5. My back and chest were so tight I couldn't cry.
  6. After I went back to work I tried going to a different
  7. chiropractor. Technical competence wasn't enough
  8. to retain me as a patient, a massage therapist helped
  9. me find someone else & I started referring others to him.
  10. Then I hurt my back at work on a sunny Friday morning.


  1. By the time my shift was done I had pain radiating down 
  2. my left leg. A manager at work seemed skeptical
  3. of my injury claim. Feeling low and in pain I thought
  4. I could go back to a chiropractor I had seen before. I
  5. hadn't liked him, but I was desparate for care. 
  6. Most of my chiropractors have been tall, athletic,
  7. young, and decent looking. I'm used to joking around
  8. with them and hearing about their wives. At first
  9. I ignored the man standing near the counter, then
  10. I learned that he was going to be seeing me.        


  1. For the first time in my life I couldn't look a
  2. practitioner in the eye. He took me back, asked
  3. me a lot of questions, offered to carry my bag,
  4. but nobody touches it except for me. Pride is dumb,
  5. but I hated him for systematically destroying mine.  
  6. While I was laying down on the table he told me
  7. he was glad I had come in when I did. I almost
  8. started crying, but some how managed to breathe.
  9. It was one of the most validating things anyone
  10. has ever said to me and I loved him for that.


  1. The other day my friend was telling me that he's
  2. had good chiropractors. I agreed, mine have 
  3. traditionally helped me tremendously. But before
  4. this I hadn't had anyone who could read my 
  5. emotions the way that this guy can #scary 
  6. You can't be nice to me and expect to get away
  7. with it for long. There were times when I
  8. had longings that I knew were reserved
  9. for the bedroom, the playroom, and other
  10. flat surfaces. He had a right to know so I told him.


  1. I figured he'd pass me off to his boss, but to
  2. my surprise he agreed to keep me as a patient.
  3. Then his boss told me that I was no longer going
  4. to be seeing him. Nothing had happened, but I
  5. understood the logic behind the decision. 
  6. It's one thing to fall for a pretty face and
  7. quite another to find someone who feels
  8. like a soul connection. Yesterday I called the 
  9. front desk to tell them that I wouldn't be
  10. returning as a patient; progress abandoning perfection.


  1. Although he knows where I work, I don't think 
  2. I'm ever going to see him again, that makes
  3. me sad, but I know intuitively that
  4. refusing to let his boss control and degrade 
  5. me was the right thing to have done. 
  6. Morale of my story: when searching for
  7. the very best in chiropractic care
  8. make sure that your new provider
  9. reduces the pain in your low back and neck
  10. without leaving a fresh hole in your heart.

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