Research studies have shown some surprising things that you can do if you don’t want low back pain. For example, did you know that weight training exercises can help people with chronic lower back pain? Here is what one research study said about this first thing to do for low back pain.

Exercise for low back pain?

A study done in 2012 by the University of Alberta on 240 men and women with chronic lower back pain. This study showed that those who exercised 4 days a week had a better quality of life, 28 percent less pain, and 36 percent less disability. Those who hit the gym only 2 or 3 days a week did not show the same level of change.

You might think that someone with low back pain should not be exercising frequently, but this study showed that working with weights 4 days a week provides the greatest amount of pain relief and quality of life according to Robert Kell, lead author of the study and an Assistant Professor of Exercise and Physiology at the University of Alberta, in Canada.

What is important to know from this study…  Of four groups: one group exercised with weights 2 days a week, another 3 days a week, and a third group 4 days a week.  The fourth group did not exercise with weights.

At the end of the 16 weeks, the level of pain reportedly decreased by 28% in the 4-day a week group, by 18% in the 3-day a week group, and by 14% in the 2-day a week group.

So What Does This Mean For You?

It depends.  Every case of back pain is individual so don’t just run out and start lifting weights.  That could be a disaster.

Whether you have just started to get back pain or if you have been suffering for a long time, you should NOT just run out and start exercising. Your back pain needs to be evaluated first to make sure you can exercise safely with your particular condition. For instance you should not be lifting weights with a raging disc bulge. Also exercising stuck joints can make a problem worse.

As Chiropractors we are specially trained to diagnose and treat low back pain. We can tell you the probable cause of your back pain and the best treatment methods for your individual case. And importantly, when and what exercises to do.

But clearly, for many low back sufferers, exercise can be helpful.

Now for something else that can possibly help your back pain…

Now for the second thing you can do…

If you smoke- Quit.  For as long as we have been in practice (35 years now) researchers have known that smoking contributes to chronic pain disorders.  Smoking increases risk for low back pain, spinal disk problems, and poor outcome after surgery.

One study published in the December 2012 issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery found that smokers suffering from spinal disorders and related back pain reported greater discomfort than spinal disorder patients who stopped smoking during an eight-month period. The leading author of the study said that nicotine increases pain.

The conclusion of the study: “Given a strong association between improved patient-reported pain and smoking cessation, this study supports the need for smoking cessation programs for patients with a painful spinal disorder.”

We have taught patients that nicotine can worsen trigger points as well. This information comes from Dr. Janet Travell in her myofascial text books from 1992. Trigger points are painful muscle conditions that not only cause pain in a muscle, but refer pain, tingling and/or numbness to distant parts of the body. But if you don’t smoke and are not exposed to second hand smoke…

The third thing is….

Get regular chiropractic care. In many cases of chronic low back pain, early and aggressive treatment produces optimum results for the patient. When combined with adjunctive therapies of rehabilitative exercise and external supports, spinal manipulation can be very effective.

A “two-to-three-week regimen of daily spinal manipulations by an experienced chiropractor” brought significant improvement in 81 percent of totally disabled patients with chronic low back and referred leg pain, as reported in a study by Kirkaldy-Willis and Cassidy.1 The 238 subjects in this study were from a university back pain clinic in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada for patients who had failed to respond to previous conservative or surgical treatment. The researchers stated: “In our experience, anything less than two weeks of daily manipulation is inadequate for chronic back pain patients”.1

So, if you need some help for your lower back pain, call us at 978-535-6155 to schedule a convenient appointment.

1.Kirkaldy-Willis WH, Cassidy JD. Spinal manipulation in the treatment of low back pain. Can Fam Phys 1985;31:528-40.