Lower Back Pain...How To Manage It As A Horse Rider

 

Lower Back Pain And Horse Riders

"Nonspecific low back pain or lumbago is a common musculoskeletal disorder affecting 80% of people at some point in their lives. In the United States, it is the most common cause of job-related disability, a leading contributor to missed work, and the second most common neurological ailment — only headache is more common.It can be either acute, subacute or chronic in duration. With conservative measures, the symptoms of low back pain typically show significant improvement within a few weeks from onset. " Quote is taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_back_pain

Lower Back Pain and Horse Riders

4820068 spine I think lower back pains are the single most inhibiting factor for horse riders. It certainly seems to be the most common problem horses riders suffer. It also seems to be the problem not well managed by the medical profession as far as horse riders are concerned. Every horse rider who has emailed me has been told to quit riding and find another sport.   I was told the same at 18 years old to never ride a horse again.I recovered and went onto to ride at international level, I still manage my lower back pain and live life as I want not by a Doctors standard.

The most common causes of low back pain are:

Quoted from http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/tc/low-back-pain-cause " Injury or overuse of muscles, ligaments, and joints.  Pressure on nerve roots in the spinal canal. This can be caused by a herniated disc, sometimes brought on by repeated vibration or motion (as during sports activity or when using a machine or lifting in the wrong way) or by a sudden heavy strain or increased pressure to the lower back.  Osteoarthritis, usually caused by getting older.

asymmetry spine websizeWhen osteoarthritis affects the small joints in the spine, it can lead to back pain. Osteoarthritis in other joints, such as the hips, can cause you to limp or to change the way you walk. This can also lead to back pain. Spondylolisthesis, a defect that allows one vertebra to slide over another. Spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal, which is usually caused by getting older.Fractures of the vertebrae caused by a lot of force, such as from an auto or bicycle accident, a direct blow to the spine, or compressing the spine by falling onto the buttocks or head. "

Lower Back Pain and Horse Riders

The most common injury in horse riders is a disc herniation or a disc prolapse. This comes from repetitive loading and vibration.  4870095 ruptured diskAlthough this injury is serious and very painful it does not mean the end of your riding career or your dreams, 95% of people suffer the same and many recover to live normal lives. The disc is the shock absorbing structure between the vertebrae. It is the cushion that allows us to bounce and jump and run and ride and absorb the impact through our body. The disc is under pressure from all our activities in life, not just horse riding. Lifting, bending, twisting, coughing, sneezing,sitting, running riding and many more life activities put the disc under pressure. The disc is damaged from these micro repeated pressures and eventually bulges into the spinal space, this is called a disc herniation. This often progresses to a disc prolapse, this is when the disc cracks and the pulpis (center structure) ooze out into the spinal space.

 The level of the prolapse determines the symptoms presenting. The symptoms depend on the position the prolapse occurs, sometimes the nerves are involved and in others, they are not. In my case, it completely squashed the L 5 nerve root and I had complete numbness and muscle weakness of that nerve root. I was lucky  I did not get leg pain I only had lower back pain and the tilted posture. The management of a disc prolapse is determined by the level of the prolapse and the symptoms presenting. A person with a lot of pain needs to take pain medication prescribed by their doctor. Sometimes it is a matter of trial and error with drugs. Ask your Pharmacist for the best advice to manage your pain meds. I believe everybody with disc injury needs to consult a Physiotherapist.

winged scap websizeTreatment on the spine is so useful to treat pain, muscle spasm, and joint movement. Everybody needs advice on posture, daily activities and how to do what they do. The disc will heal over time and it needs to be protected as it does. The body recognizes the prolapse as a foreign body and the cells will slowly eat the prolapse away and the nerve root will recover to a point and the pain settles.

Management For a Disc Injury. Lower Back Pain and Horse Riders.

I prescribe a back brace in nearly all my back pain patients. Absolutely core exercises are started immediately and functional core training is started. Pain medication must be taken as necessary and heat is also very useful. Not everybody improves with heat, some respond to ice, so try both if you are not sure which is correct for you. Avoid sitting for long periods  and also standing. Lifting, bending twisting, running, coughing, sneezing all increase the disc pressure and increase pain. Rest from loading is absolutely necessary. Rest from riding is necessary too. Rest is a word horse riders don't like to hear and all ask how long. Well, it is just a fact it takes a split second to be injured and months to heal...a fact of life riders!!! We are all prepared to allow our horses to rest the maximum time required, so do the same for yourself.

Back Brace jpgAs a physiotherapist, I also treat my back pain patients. I use ultrasound, acupuncture, mobilization and of course advice on lifting and work and exercises. A back brace or taping are also adjuncts to treatments. Some patients need to be referred for a prescription of anti-inflammatory drugs, but many just take over the counter medications. Controlling back spasms is primary.Time and knowledge are important. It is important to get your body back to a posture that it can heal in. Regaining muscle length, joint position, and flexibility and not aggravating it is important.

As far as returning to riding, the core strength and the jarring need to be managed. Lower Back pain stops the core working so overriding the mechanism is important. I teach my patients the core crunch and how to use the back brace to improve their core. I advise to ride in a back brace and certainly have it on while around the horse yard. To finish off, each person is different but the injury is the same. It affects your whole life, not just your riding. It is important to get and follow professional advice. I do allow my patients to ride early because riding is not bad for your back...putting the saddle, on, though, IS.

I recommend returning to ride once you feel safe, this is an individual choice. Get help to saddle and tack up, and certainly start back slow, no sitting trot or jumping or too long. I absolutely advise horse riders keep their fitness with walking or an exercise bike and most definitely core exercises on the floor, in standing and at work. My program Applied Posture Riding will teach you all of this, and I am able to support you all the way.

If you are returning to riding after an injury and want some advice, fill out the subscribe form.

 LIKE  and follow my Applied Posture Riding  facebook page. Good luck and enjoy your riding