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How to Treat Lumbar Spondylosis Naturally
If you’ve been diagnosed with lumbar spondylosis, you likely experience chronic lower back pain (that may radiate down or up) due to a spinal vertebra that has shifted out of alignment. While pain medications can provide some relief, and surgery is an option in certain cases, you may want to try other treatments first.A combination of rest, lifestyle changes, and core-strengthening exercises may help you to manage your back pain.
Managing Pain and Stiffness
Apply ice for pain and heat for stiffness.Lie back with a heating pad positioned against your lower back to loosen the surrounding muscles and increase blood flow to the area. This can be particularly helpful before physical activity. If you have pain due to physical activity, ice is the better option—position an ice pack wrapped in a towel against your lower back.
- Don’t apply either ice or heat for more than 30 minutes at a time. Also, if you’re applying either or both more than 3-5 times per day, you should consult your doctor about additional treatment options.
- Don’t apply ice packs or bags directly to your skin—the cold can cause damage. Wrap a towel or t-shirt around the ice pack.
- Your heating pad or hot water bottle should be warm, not hot enough to potentially burn you.
Try bed rest for no more than 3 days.If you have a flare-up of pain, especially after greater-than-normal physical activity, rest your back as much as possible for 1-3 days. The more time you spend reclined in bed (or, less ideally, on the couch), the better.
- However, don’t spend more than 3 days on bed rest without your doctor’s recommendation. You may be at risk for developing blood clots in your legs (DVT).
Wear a back brace for no more than 1 week.A back brace can be thought of as “walking bed rest,” as it takes pressure off of your lower back. If possible, use a back brace that is specifically recommended for you by your doctor, physical therapist, or other healthcare professional.
- A back brace is only a temporary measure, though. If you wear it for more than 1 week, the muscles surrounding your spine will weaken and your condition may worsen.
Make healthy lifestyle changes like losing excess weight.If you are overweight, shedding some pounds/kilograms can reduce the pressure placed on your misaligned vertebrae. Talk to your doctor about the best diet and exercise program for your weight loss needs, especially since lumbar spondylosis may limit the types of exercises you should engage in.
- While smoking doesn’t directly cause lumbar spondylosis, quitting will improve your overall health and make it easier for you to reduce your back pain.
- Getting sufficient sleep is also good for your overall health, and gives your back more rest.
Try support pillows and under-knee wedges while sleeping.Contoured neck support pillows can be particularly helpful if you have cervical spondylosis (which causes neck pain), but they may also benefit your lower back as well. Placing a wedge-shaped pillow under your knees and upper legs while sleeping on your back may also provide some pain relief.
- Consult your doctor for recommendations on the best pillow options for your condition.
Stretch your lower back gently before getting out of bed.With your head still on your pillow, draw both knees up toward your chest. Cross your arms over your knees and gently tug them down and forward. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds before getting out of bed.
- This quick stretch can help loosen up the tight muscles surrounding your lower spine.
- Don’t force your knees to touch your chest if it causes you pain. Your goal is to feel nothing more than a mild stretching sensation in your lower back.
Trying Different Treatment Programs
Participate in physical therapy sessions.During a typical physical therapy session, you’ll engage in a range of activities that can help manage your lumbar spondylosis. These can include heat and/or ice treatments, electrostimulation, therapeutic massage, assisted stretches, and a range of exercises focused on increasing flexibility, range of motion, and core strength.
- Based on your situation, you might attend roughly 1-hour long physical therapy sessions 1-3 times per week, for example.
- Ask you doctor to refer you to a good physical therapist in your area. You may also need to contact your insurance company regarding coverage for physical therapy.
Sign up for a restorative yoga class.Restorative yoga programs are often targeted toward older individuals, but they can be a great choice for anyone dealing with chronic lower back pain. You’ll do a range of low-impact yoga maneuvers intended to help increase your flexibility and core strength.
- Restorative yoga can provide similar benefits to the exercises performed during physical therapy sessions. However, most medical professionals would likely recommend using yoga as a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, physical therapy.
Give chiropractic care a try.Chiropractors are best known for doing manual adjustments to joints like the spine in order to reduce pain and stiffness. However, a chiropractic session can also include massage, heat and/or ice, electrostimulation, and other treatments.
- Some doctors are reluctant to recommend chiropractic care for their patients, while others may be more open to it. Consult your doctor before making up your mind.
- Check the credentials of chiropractors you’re considering and set up consultations so you can meet them to discuss your specific condition and needs.
See if acupuncture helps relieve your pain.Many people swear by acupuncture treatments—the precise insertion of needles into your skin—for pain management. It’s not entirely clear why acupuncture may work for some people, but it may have to do with spurring the release of pain-relieving chemicals in the body.
- Choosing an acupuncture practitioner can seem daunting, since there are so many different training backgrounds, accreditations, and other factors to consider. The best advice is to research acupuncturists thoroughly, seek recommendations from people you trust, and ask questions during initial consultations.
Building Core Strength with Pelvic Tilt Exercises
Lie on your back and do basic pelvic tilts.Lie on a carpeted floor or exercise mat, with your arms at your sides and your knees bent so that your feet are flat on the floor. Focus on your belly button and draw your abdomen inward and upward, with the goal of pushing your lower back flat against the floor. Hold this position for about 3-5 seconds, then release.
- Do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions (“reps”) apiece of this exercise, if you’re able. If not, start with 1 set of 10 reps and work your way up over time.
- You can do this exercise every day.
- While this is a low-impact exercise, it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen.
Add partial crunches to your pelvic tilts.Get into the standard pelvic tilt position, but cross your arms over your chest this time. Draw your belly button inward and upward as before. This time, though, while holding the pelvic tilt, tighten your abs and lift your shoulder blades off the floor.
- Keep your lower back, buttocks, and feet planted on the floor as you lift your shoulder blades.
- When you lower your shoulder blades back to the floor, release the pelvic tilt and then repeat the process. Work your way up to doing 3 sets of 10-15 reps every day.
- Try doing these right after your set(s) of traditional pelvic tilts.
Do alternating knee lifts while holding a pelvic tilt.Assume the basic pelvic tilt position—knees bent, feet flat, arms to your sides. Draw your abs in to press your lower back to the floor as before, but this time hold the position. As you hold the pelvic tilt, lift one foot off the floor and bend that knee toward your chest. Then, do the following with the other leg and repeat for 10 total reps.
- Build your way up to doing 3 sets of 10 reps daily.
- Eventually, you may be able to comfortably lift both knees simultaneously instead of one at a time. This is a more advanced maneuver, however.
Try elbow-knee touches while holding a pelvic tilt.Cross your arms over your chest and draw your abdomen in to do a pelvic tilt. Then, while holding the tilt, raise your shoulder blades off the floor while simultaneously lifting one of your feet. Rotate your upper body slightly and try to touch your raised knee to your opposite elbow. Lower down to the floor and repeat with the other knee.
- Build your way up to doing 3 sets of 10 reps daily.
- This exercise essentially combines the pelvic tilt, partial crunch, and knee lift. Wait until you can comfortably do multiple sets of the individual maneuvers before trying this one.
- If you have lumbar spondylosis, limit the amount of overhead work you do—for instance, painting the ceiling, trimming tree branches, placing boxes on high shelves, etc. Otherwise, you may exacerbate your condition.
- There are several types of surgical procedures that you might consider to treat this condition, but none of them are suited to every case or guaranteed to help. Talk to your doctor if you are considering surgical options.
Video: Lumbar Spondylosis | 3 Ways Fast Treat Lumbar Spondylosis
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