- Avoid slumped sitting
Imagine the cartilage fibres that make up the disc being red, sore and inflamed. If this area is stretched, you can understand why you pain will be worse. Instead, if you need to sit, ensure that your bum is at the back of the chair, your knees are lower than your hips and that your feet are on the ground. It is a good idea to use a support (cushion, rolled up towel or jumper) in your lower back to help prevent a slump.
- Walk little and often
Walking is extremely important with disc related low back pain. Firstly it involves general movement which has been shown to be crucial for disc related low back pain. It also keeps the spine in an extended position and therefore avoids the flexion (bend forward) that disc pain can be aggravated by. You should note that the distance to be walked each time will depend on the individual and the symptoms that they exhibit at the time. Pacing yourself is key. Start with short walks on flat ground. Do not go too far on the first attempt. See how you back pain reacts to the walk and alter the distance / time of your next walk accordingly with your aim being to increase distance / time as your symptoms allow.
- Use heat for pain relief
One of the most painful parts of having disc related low back pain is the associated muscle spasm. Using heat can be an extremely effective method in reducing this muscle spasm and therefore controlling your pain. Use a microwave heat pack, hot water bottle, heat rub or hot shower to apply the heat. Remember “tip 1”!! Do not sit in a slumped posture while you apply heat.
- Lie on your front
Lying on your front while leaning on your elbows helps reduce the pressure on the back of the disc by putting your body in an extended position. This may be acutely sore if the disc is bulging as extension can nip the back of the disc between the vertebrae. If you are unable to lean on the elbows, you could try simply lying on your front for a while and slowly increase the extension as pain allows by putting pillows under your chest.
- Do not have a hot bath
Sitting in a hot bath may feel good as the heat helps reduce any muscle spasm. However, the slumped position of a bath will add undue stress to the disc in the low back and once you get out, pain could return and even be worse than before. Instead, follow “tip 3” for heated pain relief.