Low Back Pain Triggers to Avoid

April 8th, 2015

Avoid Common Low Back Pain Triggers

Since it has been warming up, people are starting to get more active. With that I have seen a lot more acute low back pain coming into my office in the last month or so than usual, so I thought I would outline some interesting findings from a recent study that was published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

The article’s purpose was to investigate what things that people were doing commonly right before they had a flare up of low back pain.

The study identified 12 different triggering events to ask participants in the study if they had been exposed to within 0 hours to 96 hours prior to their onset of pain.

The 12 triggering events identified were:

-Manual Tasks Involving Heavy Loads
-Awkward Posture
-Not Keeping Carried Objects Close to the Body
-Handling Live People / Animals
-Being Unstable / Unbalanced / Having Difficulty Grasping or Holding an Object
-Moderate or Vigorous Physical Activity
-Vigorous Activity Only
-Slip / Trip / Fall
-Sexual Activity
-Consumption of Alcohol
-Being Distracted During an Activity or Task
-Being Fatigued / Tired

Analysis of these triggers individually found that people were most likely to develop low back pain shortly after doing an activity or task while being distracted.

The other most common triggering events were heavy loads, awkward postures, and being fatigued or tired.

Oddly enough (and awesomely enough) sexual activity and alcohol consumption were not commonly reported triggering events.

The study also identified that the most common time that people developed low back pain after being exposed to a triggering event was between 7am and Noon.

This is a pretty common finding in low back pain studies, and while no one is really sure as to why, the assumption is that it has something to do with the instability of intervertebral discs early in the morning.

These discs get nutrition by soaking them up like a sponge. This happens mostly at night while we are sleeping. When we wake up in the morning they are a bit larger and get smaller as we go about our day.

If you want to see what kind of difference there is, measure yourself in the morning then again at night. This is probably the reason that you have to adjust your rear view mirror when you get in your car to come home from work as well!

I digress though.

The last really interesting thing this article found was that people got older, their chances of getting low back pain when exposed to these same activities actually got to be less and less!

My supposition is either that older people have learned how to do these tasks properly, or they just have gotten smart and hired people to move heavy things for them.

I think that the major take home points from the article are the following:

-Pay attention during activity. Make sure to be present and focusing on the task at hand.
-Don’t lift heavy/awkwardly shaped objects when you’re tired
-Make sure to use proper lifting mechanics or get help when lifting larger objects
-Avoid strenuous activity earlier on in the day
-With regards to low back pain, drink and have sex as much as you like (HAHA!)

If you have any questions about how to lift and move objects while properly protecting your spine, make sure to ask at your next appointment and I will go over some simple recommendations with you!