by Kyrian Lyndon
People suffering from lower back pain often ask me how I manage scoliosis and lumbar spine disk disease, despite having a disk determined to be “shot” and rendering me a bad candidate for back surgery. One doctor told me I would end up in a wheelchair.
As an advocate of healing mind, body, and soul from all trauma, I hate to see people suffer, so I’m happy to pass along what has made life a lot more manageable for me. I am not an authority on health. I’m just someone who has learned a lot through experience and from chiropractors who are willing to teach you what you need to know.
To start, I read somewhere that I needed to change my relationship with pain. This may sound like new-age psychobabble, but it’s not. My biggest fears were things that could lead to physical pain. I was terrified of physical pain. I wanted to be comfortable all the time and couldn’t accept being uncomfortable ever. I feared it so much; it caused anxiety, and that anxiety only made things worse.
Changing my relationship with pain required getting to a place where I could accept when I was uncomfortable and hurting. I needed to remind myself that I wasn’t the only person on earth this was happening to, that aches and pains were normal, in fact, and people deal with it all the time. I also came to recognize that the physical pain I had was not solely a result of this inevitable thing inflicted upon me by some disorder I had no control over; it was my body telling me that something needed attention. Something I was doing or not doing had to change. I needed to take care of my body and myself and also to know that I was worth that. This realization helped, as did the more relaxed attitude of seeing myself as just another person on the planet dealing with something unpleasant and seeing myself as a more confident, take-charge person who could address and remedy situations. It means not only learning to love yourself but to trust and believe in yourself, too!
So let’s talk about treating the pain.
I used to panic whenever I felt pain. It made me want to stop everything and get to a place where I could lie down and stay there. That’s a good time to stay away from coffee and sugar until you’re feeling less vulnerable.
For me, ice treatments are everything. A chiropractor taught me to lay on my stomach with a small pillow rolled under my navel to elevate the lower half of my body and then put the ice pack right in the middle of my lower back (no matter where the pain is). Another way is to lie on your back with a pillow under your legs and the ice in the middle of your lower back, never less than twelve minutes, never more than twenty, and the ice pack should have a sheath. If you don’t have a wrap for it, you can put it over your thin T-shirt rather than under it, but it should never be directly on your skin. While in the worst pain where I could barely move, I did twenty minutes of ice every two hours. People who can’t stand ice can use heat, but it’s best to do ice at least for the first couple of days to reduce inflammation.
I do have an ice pack I can use at my desk, too, with a wraparound belt that has a pocket for the ice. I bought an extra one to take to the office with me when I worked at a law firm. I kept the ice in their refrigerator and the belt in my desk.
Years ago, I used back braces as well. They help but can also be a crutch, so it’s good if you use them as needed and wean yourself away as you can.
There are those who can’t function without pain medication. You can also take something like Tylenol every four to five hours for days until you feel better. That works to reduce inflammation. However, even Tylenol and Advil are getting a bad rap these days, so for people who don’t want to use these medications, I’m including a link below about natural alternatives.
A lot of time, it’s our neck that is out of whack, and it throws everything off. Take a small pillow or towel and roll it up tight, lie on your back and put that pillow behind your neck. Relax like that for twenty minutes or so whenever necessary.
As for prevention, having a solid abdominal core is essential. For most people, this means changing eating habits, but you don’t have to be overweight or unhealthy to have a weak core. For people who can’t get to a gym, there are great exercise tapes on the market. You can do your workouts at home, and the instructors tell you how to do it right, so you aren’t injured. Ideally, you want to work all the muscles in your body, and you want to include strength training, yoga, Pilates, and aerobics in your routine. However, if you don’t have a lot of time to work out, you can at least do abdominal exercises five times a week for ten to fifteen minutes. Just be sure you are doing the exercises correctly, and, while it’s true that you shouldn’t exercise while you are in pain or to the point of pain, sometimes the pain issue is resolved within a day. The trick is to get back on track when you can, even if you can only manage pelvic tilts. When your core is strong, your back is not so vulnerable.
I mentioned that pain sometimes resolves itself within a day. I’m talking about food digestion. Very often, the pain people feel in their lower back comes from being bloated and unable to digest food. If this is going on for days, maybe you’re not drinking enough water. Try to drink eight to ten glasses daily. When people get older, they need to add more fiber to their diets.
When my back problems began, one of the first things my doctor told me was to stop lifting my toddler and bending at the waist to pick up his toys. When we are in parent mode, we forget we are human and vulnerable. Be careful about heavy lifting, and when you do it, bend at the knees.
If you have back issues, it won’t help you to stay in any one position for too long either. Do you sit at your desk a lot, like I do? Get up and stretch when you can. It’s the same with standing and walking. If you have to stand a long time, walk around a little or sit when you can. A mile-long walk is usually fine but can backfire if you’re hurting. Lying in bed for days isn’t good either. When you are injured, you can’t help that, but as soon as you can, get up every so often and walk a little farther and a little longer each time.
Everyone knows it’s important to stretch after exercising, but when you have lower back issues, you can take time to stretch even when you’re not beginning or ending a workout.I have a big purple Pilates ball that I can use for stretching at home. You don’t need one to do stretches, but they’re awesome, and they usually come with videos and instructions.
Your back should always be flat against the chair you’re sitting in, no space between your back and the chair. You’ll probably find chairs with arms and high backs to be more comfortable and supportive. I also use a lower back pillow when I’m working at my desk.
Your doctor may have already told you that you need a good mattress and to get a restful sleep every night.
All this may sound like a lot of upkeep, but it’s a lifestyle change and becomes second nature to you once you get used to it, so please don’t be discouraged, or give up. Believe me; I know how debilitating this can be, especially if, like me, it’s not the only issue you have to contend with. Anything that can alleviate even a little bit of suffering helps!
Hope you feel better!
© Copyright October 9, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com.
Dodinsky photo with quote by BK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kyrian Lyndon is the author of Shattering Truths, the first book in her Deadly Veils series. She has also published two poetry collections, A Dark Rose Blooms, and Remnants of Severed Chains. Kyrian Lyndon began writing short stories and fairy tales when she was just eight years old. In her adolescence, she moved on to poetry. At sixteen, while working as an editor for her high school newspaper, she wrote her first novel, and then completed two more novels at the ages of nineteen and twenty-five. Born and raised in Woodside, Queens, New York, Kyrian has worked primarily in executive-level administrative positions with major New York publishing companies. She resides on Long Island in New York.