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Last Updated on December 17, 2020

12 Best Back Strengthening Exercises to Relieve Lower Back Pain

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12 Best Back Strengthening Exercises to Relieve Lower Back Pain

Spending your Friday evening doing back strengthening exercises may not catch your attention with ease. Yet, working to develop and maintain the muscles in your lower back can help make your favorite weekend activities more enjoyable.

In fact, you may be able to add a few new activities that you have not been able to do due to your discomfort. You are in the right place if you are looking for attainable ways to improve your lower back pain with practicality.

You might read through these exercises for strengthening your back and think, “Hmm. How would that stance help to take my pain away.” Once you put a few into practice, you will easily feel and recognize the benefit of each motion.[1] Your body may need a few gentle reminders each week to help get your muscles and joints back into pain-free cooperation with one another.

We have a list of back strengthening exercises just for that purpose. Pick your favorites, and get started!

Benefits of Back Strengthening Exercises

Once you get into a routine and begin to draw from your own hard work, you may end up surprising yourself with how much better you feel. Your lower back needs your support to do its job well. Selecting and regularly completing yoga-style exercises can help you care for your lower back and its surrounding muscle partners.[2]

Even just a few days per week with these 12 exercises can help provide your muscles and joints with a sense of functionality that may have been lost or ‘misplaced’ along the way. It may not have happened all at once, and you may not have even realized for some time that a slow change was taking place in the core of your body.

Injuries can happen in an instant or slowly over time, but they almost always take time to heal. Perhaps, you experienced an injury and have yet to recover fully. Start small and work your way to a full recovery. Moderate activity that matches your current condition is far more beneficial than too much activity or none and all.[3]

It may be that you are not directly able to pinpoint or verbally specify where your back pain or discomfort originates. Take your time working through these 12 back strengthening exercises. Try to focus on one portion of your body at a time. Be mindful of how new your injury or pain discomfort seems to be. Acute pain may need a few days or more of rest and recovery before you begin working to build strength.

Do not feel as though you must do all of the exercises each session. As you work to get rid of your lower back pain, it is going to be more important for you to go slow and ensure that each movement benefits your body. Consciously working to recognize where pain starts and what might cause it can help you better focus your process of healing.

Regardless of how you acquired lower back pain, be patient with yourself as you work to recover. Be sure to push your body through uncomfortable moments, but work to avoid pushing yourself so hard that you cause further injury or create a new injury.

Working with your lower back muscles can help your body be better equipped to handle the unexpected.[4] Go slow, take your time, be consistent and work hard; and you will recover efficiently.

Start with a couple of exercises from each category and rotate through the different ones. Mixing up the exercises will help keep your brain interested as you work to develop a routine for healing.

12 Lower Back Focus Exercises

Directly focusing on lower back muscles and connections in the body is essential for proper recovery from pain, injury, or general discomfort.[5]

Take your time with each exercise. Start with a few repetitions, and work your way up to your desired goal over a period of weeks or maybe even a few months if needed.

1. Knee to Chest Raises

Rest with your back flat on the floor, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands palm down on the floor. Bring your right knee to your chest and hold for five to ten seconds.

Switch sides. Repeat ten times.

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    You may also choose to allow your opposing leg to rest in a straightened position.[6]

    2. Floor Swimming

    Rest prone (face down) on the floor. Bring both arms flat and stretch them straight out from your shoulders. Legs should be straight and flat on the floor with toes relaxed. Keep your head relaxed and face the floor. Raise your right arm and left leg. Count to five. Switch sides.

    Raise both arms and both legs while keeping your torso on the floor. Count to five. Repeat the series five to ten times slowly.

      Floor swimming can be done in reverse while in a supine (face up) position if abdominal work is desired, but be careful to keep your back flat and only raise one leg at a time.[7]

       

      3. Straight Leg Raises (from Table Top Position)

      Start in Table Top position with knees and hands on the floor. Straighten your right leg directly behind you so that it is parallel to the floor. Work to keep your right leg straight as you gently raise and lower it ten times. Switch sides. Repeat three to ten times as your ability increases.

        4. Bridge

        Rest flat on your back. Place your feet flat on the ground with your knees bent.[8]

        Gently raise your hips and torso to form a triangle shape between your head, knees, legs, and the floor. Your head and shoulders will remain on the floor. You may rest your hands palm down on the floor or reach to touch your fingers together under your back.

        Squeeze your buttocks, and push down into the floor with your feet as you hold your torso off of the ground. Hold for a count of ten. Repeat five to ten times.

          If you have experienced a severe neck injury, you may want to wait until your neck improves or inquire with a chiropractic doctor before starting with Bridge.

          Upper Back Focus Exercises

          Your pain may be centralized in your lower back, but your upper back may begin to feel the strain if recovery does not allow your body to function as a unit.

          Giving your upper back some love will help you reunite your lower back to the rest of your body. Incorporate these upper back exercises into your routine for better comfort in your lower back muscles.

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          5. Modified Plank

          Back pain sufferers will do well to begin with a Modified Plank. For this, allow your knees and hands to rest on the floor as you work to hold your torso off of the floor.[9]

          Keep your arms directly under your shoulders, and your knees and lower legs on the floor behind you. Do not let your hips dip toward the floor. Hold for a count of five to ten. Remember to breathe. Repeat three to ten times increasing the number as your pain diminishes and your strength builds.

          Be sure not to hold your position for longer than your body can handle, especially in the beginning.

            6. Front Plank

            If you have begun to recover from lower back pain and are looking to minimize pain in the future, Front Plank is a great choice.[10]

            Begin with your hands and feet on the floor: Your hands should be directly under your shoulders with your fingers and thumbs open and comfortable. Legs straight. Toes curled. Try to imagine a straight line from the top of your head to your heels.

            The work comes in trying to keep your torso from bowing down without raising your hips too high.

              For added variety, try planking with your elbows and forearms on the floor instead of just your hands.[11]

              For the elbow and forearm style, imagine that your body is parallel to the floor. Hold your chosen position for a count of five to ten. Rest. Repeat three to ten times increasing the amount of time as you gain strength.

                7. Side Plank

                Be prepared to engage your sense of humor if you have not tried this one yet. Side plank is excellent for helping to build supporting back muscles (obliques especially), but it does take some practice getting started.

                Sit on the floor. Begin with your right side resting on your right elbow. (This should look similar to how you might relax and watch a movie on the floor. Your head may even rest in your right hand as you begin.)[12]

                As you are able, gently push your hips upward to form an elongated triangle shape between you and the floor. It may take a few days of practice, but once you can to get into position, try counting to three, then to five, and then to ten.

                  Practice on both your right and left side each time. Getting to ten may take you a few weeks, but you can get there if you start small!

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                  You may desire to try leaning against a wall as you learn how to balance for the Side Plank. Modification: Keep your knees on the floor and raise only your upper body.[13]

                    8. Standing (or Bent Knee) Push-ups

                    Standing Push-ups are better for low back pain sufferers because less pressure is placed on lower back muscles. Your upper back is engaged, but your hips and abdomen are not drawing your body down during the exercise.

                    Standard Push-ups are sometimes best left for when your lower back muscles have healed and can help you keep your body off of the ground.

                    Place your hands on a wall at arm’s length and your feet flat on the floor. Bend your elbows until your forehead gently touches the wall or comes close. Repeat slowly ten to twenty times.[14]

                      For Bent Knee Push-ups, complete the same repetitions but with your hands and knees on the floor instead of in a standing position.[15]

                        Overall Core Exercises

                        The core of your body has been designed to help keep you upright when sitting and walking. Injuries on one side of your body often affect the other side in some way, even if we do not consciously realize it. Your spine is supported by many muscles that will do their best work in cooperation with one another.[16]

                        Bring these core exercises into your day to help your lower back begin to function more efficiently and with less pain.

                        9. Knee to Elbow Lifts

                        Start in a Front or Modified Plank Position (see exercises 5 and 6) with your hands and feet on the floor. Bring your right knee close to your right elbow. Hold for a count of five (if you can).[17]

                          Once you practice this a few times, you may be able to touch your elbow with your knee. Focus on trying to keep your body as parallel to the ground as you can without straining. Switch sides. Repeat three to five times.

                          10. Knee to Opposite Elbow Lifts

                          Complete the same steps as Knee to Elbow, but bring each knee to the opposite elbow instead of reaching to the same side.

                          In the beginning, you may only be able to bring your knee halfway across your body. That is a wonderful start!

                          Focus on keeping your body parallel to the ground. Working on decent form is far more important than how far your knee comes toward the center of your body or your chest.

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                          11. Three Legged Dog

                          Begin in a Front Plank or Modified Plank Position (see exercises 5 and 6). Raise your right leg straight up and behind you as high as you are able. Ideally, your leg may end up much higher than the rest of your body, or it may stay close to the same height.

                          Try to keep your hips squared. You may choose to keep your foot and ankle at a 90-degree angle or point your toes. Ideally, you want to create a line from your hands to the heel of your raised foot.[18]

                          Hold for a count of three to ten. Switch sides for your raised leg. Repeat three to five times as you can without causing strain.

                            12. Stargazer (Kneeling Side Plank)

                            Sit on the floor with both legs straight in front of you. Bend your right knee and rest your right foot to your left inner thigh. Place your right hand behind you. Raise your left hand high above you as you push your body up from the floor.

                            Straighten your left leg as you go up. Your weight will rest on your right hand and bent right knee.

                              Stargazer may sound like a balancing act, but you can place your feet comfortably so you do not feel as though you will topple. Hold for a count of three to ten. Switch sides. Repeat three to ten times.

                              Remember to lift your face and enjoy the view, especially if you choose to enjoy this exercise outside under the night sky!

                              Exercises to Avoid

                              Back pain does not need a new excuse to cause you discomfort as you work to heal. Remember to avoid these exercises as you recover from your lower back pain:

                              • Toe Touches
                              • Full Sit-ups
                              • Double Leg Lifts (Single Leg Lifts are beneficial if you are comfortable with doing them. Be sure to keep your back flat and level on the floor.)

                              Exercises that cause frequent or intense twisting motions are also best left for another time.

                              My Favorite Stretches for Relaxing the Back

                              Stretching is essential for building muscle strength efficiently. The combination of strengthening and stretching can help you create a wall of resistance against low back pain.[19]

                              For added interest, alternate your chosen back strengthening exercises with a few of these yoga-style stretches:

                              Moving Forward without Lower Back Pain

                              Getting started may be the hardest part of using lower back strengthening exercises to help you get rid of your discomfort. Once you have tried a couple and fallen over a time or two, you may begin to realize that these 12 exercises are not as daunting as you expected.

                              Start with 3 a day and rotate as you try the different exercises. You do not need to learn to do all of them to develop the strength that you need to minimize or eradicate your back pain. You only need to find a few that you enjoy and are willing to do regularly enough to retain the benefits of your hard work.

                              Choose two exercises per commercial during your favorite show. Pick one to do while you wait for your coffee to brew in the morning. Have one in mind to try when it is your turn to wait for the bathroom.

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                              Create a challenge chart and put it next to the kids’ chore chart to keep you motivated. Have your friends help you decide on a reward for a goal that you set for yourself. What will your goal be? Perhaps, a pain-free weekend adventure with the kids!

                              Featured photo credit: Form via unsplash.com

                              Reference

                              [1] Medical News Today: Home remedies for fast back pain relief
                              [2] Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab: 11 Secrets for Getting Rid of Back Pain
                              [3] Medline Plus: Taking care of your back at home
                              [4] National Institutes of Health: Yoga or Stretching Eases Low Back Pain
                              [5] SPINE-health: Exercise and Back Pain
                              [6] verywellhealth: Knees to Chest Raises
                              [7] PopSugar: No Need to Stand! Work Your Butt With These Floor Exercises
                              [8] Shape Magazine: 2 Glute Bridge Exercise Variations to Target Specific Results
                              [9] Hemmett Health: The Power of a Proper Plank
                              [10] PopSugar: Doing This Exercise For Just 3 Minutes a Day Will Put You on the Road to Tighter Abs
                              [11] India Times: 7 Surprising Benefits Of Doing the Plank Exercise Every Day
                              [12] Women’s Health Mag: How To Do A Side Plank Flawlessly
                              [13] My Health Alberta: Side Plank, Beginner
                              [14] Trainer: The Top 5 Upper Body Exercises For Women
                              [15] Fitnesslane: How to: Knee push ups
                              [16] American Association of Neurological Surgeons: Low Back Strain and Sprain
                              [17] Sassy Fit Girl: Plank Exercises
                              [18] Fitness 1440: Three Legged Dog
                              [19] Harvard Health Publishing: Daily moves to prevent low back pain

                              More by this author

                              Dr. Brent Wells, D.C.

                              Chiropractic doctor currently leading over 10,000 Alaskans to more active, pain-free lifestyles – without addictive drugs or invasive surgeries.

                              12 Causes of Lower Right Back Pain (And How to Relieve It) How to Sleep with Lower Back Pain Using These 13 Tips How to Prevent Neck Pain from Sleeping (And Quick Fixes to Help You) 17 Morning Stretches That Will Jumpstart Your Body and Mind 12 Best Back Strengthening Exercises to Relieve Lower Back Pain

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                              Last Updated on July 21, 2021

                              12 Causes of Lower Right Back Pain (And How to Relieve It)

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                              12 Causes of Lower Right Back Pain (And How to Relieve It)

                              Lower right back pain can be hard to shake. Even mild back pain can damper your energy levels and take away your focus at work. If you’re experiencing lower right back pain, it’s time to get to the bottom of your back pain.

                              Don’t write off your pain as simply a bad night’s rest. You deserve to know the cause of your lower right back pain – and how to relieve it.

                              Luckily, most cases of lower right back pain are a result of musculoskeletal issues and not an urgent medical crisis. Of course, that doesn’t make your back pain any less serious. Whatever the cause, you’ll need to treat your condition to get better, even if that means self-care remedies that you can easily find at home.

                              Lower right back pain should be taken seriously: it’s often a sign that some area of your body is out of balance. And with everything going on in your life, back pain is the last thing you need.

                              Today, we’ll look at common causes of lower right back pain and how to relieve it. Let’s get your back on track, so that you can feel great again.

                              Urgent Lower Right Back Pain Symptoms

                              Before we get started on common causes of lower right back pain, let’s look briefly at urgent symptoms to watch out for.

                              If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you should go to the emergency room to rule out urgent conditions.

                              • Intense pain that’s sudden or sharp
                              • Intense pain coupled with fever, nausea, vomiting or incontinence
                              • Intense pain coupled with swelling or feelings of fullness
                              • Intense pain coupled with urinary symptoms

                              These symptoms could be signs of urgent conditions such as appendicitis, kidney infections, kidney stones or endometriosis. Don’t take any chances and see a doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

                              Common Causes of Lower Right Back Pain

                              Now, let’s turn to common musculoskeletal causes of lower right back pain. By learning more about these causes, you’ll be better prepared to get quick pain relief.

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                              1. Sprains and Strains

                              Sprains and strains are the number one cause of lower right back pain.

                              What’s the difference between a sprain and a strain? In essence, they are similar injuries. Sprains happen when you overextend or tear ligaments (tissues connecting joints); strains happen when you tear muscles or tendons (tissues connecting muscles). Typically, you’ll feel swelling, stiffness, bruising, cramping and/or spasms in your lower right back.

                              You usually know when you have a sprain or strain because you did something to trigger it. This could be an everyday activity, such as a sports injury, lifting something heavy, household falls or overexercising. Any sudden movements, or unnatural twisting and turning can also injure your muscles.

                              While both sprains and strains can heal on their own, you can help speed up the recovery process. Generally, the R.I.C.E. formula is recommended, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.[1] The idea is to limit the use of your back muscles, ice them and apply any compression bandages. By following this formula, your lower right back should feel better in no time.

                              Since back sprains and strains often recur, you should also consider stretching and strengthening exercises to prevent re-injury. Building up your back muscles, following warm-up or cool-down exercises and learning proper form and posture can also boost your back and prevent it from becoming chronic pain.

                              2. Disc Degeneration

                              While a natural part of the aging process, disc degeneration can also cause lower right back pain. Disc degeneration happens when the discs that hold up the vertebrae start to decay. With this wear-and-tear, the vertebrae have less protection and begin to rub together painfully.

                              Getting relief from disc degeneration can be tricky, because there’s no cure for this natural decay. Sometimes doctors will recommend physical therapy, massage therapy or chiropractic for possible benefits by changing your posture and movements, as well as using adjustments and the therapeutic touch for pain relief.[2]

                              In extreme cases, you may even consider steroid injections or surgery. However, most people with disc degeneration will focus on getting relief at home.

                              3. Osteoarthritis

                              Osteoarthritis is another aging condition that can cause lower right back pain. As the most common arthritis condition, osteoarthritis occurs when the cushion on your joints wears down with age, especially for commonly used joints, such as your spine, knees and hips.

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                              Specific symptoms of osteoarthritis involve stiffness, swelling, tenderness and loss of range of motion. Since the damage of osteoarthritis can’t be reversed, treatment usually focuses on physical therapy and lifestyle changes, including low-impact exercise and weight loss. Home remedies such as hot and cold packs and supplements are also effective.

                              4. Herniated Disc

                              A herniated disc may also be the cause of your lower right back pain. When the spine is working correctly, discs cushion and protect the spine. According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, a disc is like a jelly donut. When a herniated disc occurs, the jelly inside is pushed outside of its case.[3] This material then makes contact with nerves, causing pain, numbness and tingling.

                              Treatment for this condition can be as simple as physical therapy and pain relievers, or as complex as surgery. In any case, lifestyle changes can help with pain relief, including regular low-impact exercise such as yoga, weight loss, massage therapy and home remedies.

                              5. Muscular Imbalance

                              At times, lower right back pain can be hard to pinpoint, especially if you don’t remember an initial injury or movement that caused it. However, the way you move and exercise can impact your back pain. Specifically, muscular imbalance is an extremely common source of lower right back pain.

                              Muscular imbalance occurs when the natural balance of your muscular system is disrupted. This typically happens when you use certain muscles more than others, or do physical activity in an unnatural position.

                              For example, if your abdominal muscles are weak, your lower back will take the load, creating a muscular imbalance that may cause you pain. In athletes, this a common problem when you use certain muscle groups for sports, leaving others unfit or unused. Muscular imbalance can cause pain spots, such as in the lower right back.

                              Muscular imbalance is best treated by a physical therapist or chiropractor who can identify the imbalance among the muscle groups and create exercises for boosting weak areas. In the meantime, home remedies are a good way to stay pain-free.

                              6. Spinal Stenosis

                              Spinal stenosis can cause serious lower right back pain. This condition occurs when the spaces in between your spine narrow, which puts excess pressure on your nerves.

                              Imagine your spine contracting or “crunching” together. Symptoms include lower right back pain, as well as numbness and weakness. Sometimes spinal stenosis is a secondary symptom of osteoarthritis too.

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                              The treatment of spinal stenosis is lifestyle-based, including building up strength, flexibility and balance. For extreme cases, doctors may also recommend decompression treatment or surgery. However, many get pain relief from staying active, losing weight and using home pain relief remedies.

                              7. Sciatica

                              If you’re experiencing sharp pain on your lower right side, you may have sciatica. Your sciatic nerve runs from your lower back down your legs. If it becomes pinched, you may feel pain that spreads all along the nerve, including your lower back. Common symptoms of sciatica also include numbness and tingling.

                              The majority of sciatica cases are relieved by home treatment. Typically, physical therapists will recommend a stretching routine and regular low-impact exercise. Sometimes, steroid injections are also beneficial for pain relief, though most cases can be successfully minimized by home remedies.

                              8. Bone Spurs

                              Another possible cause of your back pain is bone spurs. As the name suggests, bone spurs occur when bones in your spine rub together painfully.

                              When your discs start to decay, bone spurs become more likely, as the cushioning is no longer there between the vertebrae. Bone spurs are difficult to prevent, but you can get pain relief from home remedies.

                              9. Spinal Infection

                              Though less common, a spinal infection can also cause lower right back pain. There are many different types of spinal infections, but the most frequent happen when bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus or Escherichia coli enter the spine via the bloodstream.[4] This bacteria then causes swelling and tenderness, and may also manifest as a fever, muscle spasms and lower right back pain.

                              A spinal infection should be treated as soon as possible before the bacteria causes irreparable damage. The biggest clue is a fever: if you have a high fever in addition to lower right back pain, be sure to see a doctor as soon as possible. Antibiotics will typically resolve the condition, or surgery in extreme cases.

                              10. Scoliosis

                              The back condition scoliosis is another culprit of lower right back pain. Scoliosis is when the back curves in an unnatural shape, usually a C or an S. This curvature then places undue pressure on certain areas of the back. A doctor or chiropractor can easily diagnose scoliosis by looking at X-rays of the spine. Other symptoms of scoliosis include other misalignments in the body, as well as muscular weakness or numbness.

                              A physical therapist is extremely important for mitigating scoliosis and trying to correct spinal curvature in young adults. Other lifestyle treatment options include using a brace, regular exercise, chiropractic adjustments and home remedies for pain relief.

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                              11. Joint Dysfunction

                              Joint dysfunction may also account for lower right back pain. Joint dysfunction can cause inflammation in and around the spine. Specifically, joint dysfunction occurs when the joint in question moves too much or too little, causing muscle tension and tenderness. This inflammation then affects the surrounding area, including the spine.

                              In the case of sacroiliac joint dysfunction, the sacroiliac joint that connects the hips and the lumbar spine becomes inflamed, which causes pain both in the lower back and legs. To get pain relief from joint dysfunction, you can get chiropractic adjustments, wear a brace or use home remedies to get rid of the pain.

                              12. Cauda Equina Syndrome

                              Cauda Equina Syndrome is a serious and urgent spinal condition that results from nerve endings of the Cauda Equina becoming compressed. When this happens, the patient may experience motor weakness or sensory loss, since these nerves are involved in these physical sensations.

                              Cauda Equina syndrome is considered a medical emergency. If you’re experiencing lower right back pain, in addition to motor weakness, bladder dysfunction or sensory abnormalities, you may have Cauda Equina syndrome.

                              Home Remedies for Lower Right Back Pain

                              Depending on the cause of your lower right back pain, home pain relief remedies may help. If you’re looking to improve your back pain today, you can try the following options. Sometimes these self-care options are a matter of trial and error. Be sure to find the remedy that works for you.

                              • Hot and cold packs
                              • Natural supplements, such as white willow bark, devil’s claw or capsaicin
                              • Anti-inflammatory spices turmeric and ginger
                              • Green tea
                              • Essential oils, including peppermint and lavender
                              • An anti-inflammatory diet, including lots of fruits, veggies, fish and olive oil
                              • Regular low-impact exercise, including yoga or Tai Chi
                              • Good posture habits
                              • Hot herbal baths
                              • Regular massage therapy and chiropractic
                              • Healthy sleeping positions 

                              The Bottom Line

                              Remember that getting relief for your lower right back pain is up to you. It’s important to take the time to make sure you’re creating good back-friendly habits and finding ways to incorporate these home remedies in your day-to-day life.

                              If you’re not sure how to get started with recovering from back pain, you can also see a professional chiropractor, who will create a customized back pain plan to get your back condition resolved.

                              Whatever you decide, don’t just ignore your lower right back pain. It’s essential that you address the pain and find ways to overcome the condition and get pain relief. Don’t let your back pain take over your busy schedule – you’ve got better things to do!

                              Reference

                              [1] National Institute of Health: Sprains and Strains
                              [2] Better Health Chiropractic: 65 Proven Facts about Chiropractors and Chiropractic Care for Back Pain and Other Conditions
                              [3] Mayo Clinic: Herniated disk
                              [4] American Association of Neurological Surgeons: Spinal Infections

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