Treatment Options for Low Back Pain in Athletes
Low back pain can be considered an occupational hazard for athletes, and it’s the most common kind of pain they encounter. And as troublesome low back pain is to anybody, it’s especially problematic for athletes, since it can slow down their progress and keep them from practicing their sport. As far as sports go, it’s usually the weightlifters, rowers, gymnasts and football players who suffer from low back pain. This is probably because they experience muscle strains more often than other people, and muscle strains are the main cause of low back pain in athletes. Aside from that, low back pain can be caused by a herniated disc, but also past injuries, poor posture and inadequate physical conditioning. In case you’re an athlete and your low back is in pain, here are some treatment options you should consider.
Ice and heat packs
Once you start feeling low back pain, one suggestion is to apply an ice pack to the painful area. This can help you relieve some of the pain, but also decrease inflammation and improve mobility. For optimal results, it’s best to apply the ice packs a few times a day for about 20 minutes at a time. It’s important not to apply the ice directly to the skin, to avoid ice burns. After several days of ice packs, replace them with hot pads or hot baths as treatment. This should help you relax the painful tight muscles. In case this doesn’t alleviate the pain, make sure you seek medical advice from your doctor or a specialist.
Your core muscles include the abdominal, pelvic and back muscles, and if they’re strong, they’ll support your spine better and you’ll be less likely to feel any discomfort. So, if you’re in pain, perhaps you can try core exercises. For instance, both Pilates and yoga exercises are good for your core muscles, so find a class nearby and start exercising. Other than helping with the core muscles, yoga can help you increase flexibility, strengthen the muscles in your whole body, but also correct your posture. Find a competent yoga teacher and, with their guidance, start with some basic yoga exercises and poses, after which you can move on to some of the more complex ones gradually, in accordance with your body’s capability and needs.
If your low back pain has lasted longer than two weeks or if its severity has increased through time, it would be advisable to find a physical therapist who can help you. They will create an individual program based on your condition in order to ease the pain, but also improve your function and educate you about ways you can prevent the same issues from happening again in the future. In most instances, these physical therapy programs include two phases. The first one is passive physical therapy aimed at decreasing pain, followed by active exercises to help the athlete return to their normal workout regimen without any further difficulties.
Finding a specialist
If all other types of treatment fail and the pain lasts longer than several weeks, it could be a sign of a serious underlying condition. In this case you should find a specialist and discuss all your alternatives with them. It’s essential that you choose a professional and reliable expert, such as the renowned Dr Timothy Steel, who is an example of excellent practice. In his journals, he openly talks about his procedures, their results, but also his patients and the fulfilled lives they are able to lead thanks to his meticulous approach to each of them. By putting your trust in a specialist who is committed to his patients, you can rest assure that you won’t be advised to undergo a surgical procedure if you can avoid it through different treatment options. Plus, regular and preventive specialist checkups are also crucial in case of athletes who have experienced low back pain repeatedly.
Although there are some over-the-counter medications for back pain relief, you should always consult your doctor before reaching for any of those. Upon examining you and seeing what kind of back pain you’re suffering from, they will recommend the medication which is just right for your current condition. These include pain relievers such as ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants or creams, ointments or other topical pain relievers. If you’re dealing with chronic pain, in some cases a doctor may prescribe antidepressants or opioid-containing drugs like oxycodone, but under strict supervision and in limited doses. If these don’t help you and the pain starts spreading downwards, onto your leg, you might have to get a cortisone injection. Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory medication which numbs the space surrounding your spinal cord. This can relieve you of pain, but normally no longer than a few months at a time.
Any issue with your back isn’t something you should take lightly. So, if you aren’t sure what’s causing your pain and if it’s preventing you from functioning normally, don’t waste your time and visit your doctor straight away.