Back pain is one of the most common complaints we see at the Physicaltherapy Centre. If you’ve just hurt your back, and you’d describe it as “really bad”, there are three things you should do straight away:
1. Rest – this means avoid the activity or movement that caused your back pain. Also, because your back is in a worse state, it needs time to heal. Take frequent periods of rest lying face down on the floor with your head turned to one side. This will allow the lower back to rest in a safe position where the muscles can relax on their own accord.
2. Walk – Your body craves movement and whilst some movements will aggravate your condition, most people report that walking relieves their low back pain somewhat. This moderate amount of movement will ensure enough nutrients is delivered to your intervertebral discs [IVDs]. The IVDs serve an extremely important biomechanical function to your spine. As they do not have a blood supply, nutrients must be delivered by osmosis through the activity of the surrounding muscles.
3. Do not bend – bending is an extremely important movement that all spines should be capable of performing pain free. However, low back pain is commonly an injury to the posterior part of the spine. Thus, forward bending movements tend to aggravate low back pain complaints. If you’ve ever cut your finger across the joint line, you’ll know that bending it causes the wound to split open even further. Naturally, you’ll keep your finger relatively extended until the wound heals. At this point, you can start bending your finger again to strengthen the new tissue in the direction that it needs to maintain tensile strength. The same applies to the treatment of low back pain, forward bending is an important part of rehabilitation, but there’s a time factor to respect before doing this.
Expect a three to four day period of pain and discomfort in the area before any noticeable improvement. Don’t aggravate the situation by being overly active – perform light duties only. Remember, walking is better than standing, which is better than sitting.
Mornings will be particularly bad. This is because of the resultant inflammatory process that occurs when you injure a part of your body. Inflammation serves to heal the injury but it has a tendency to run out of control at night-time. Inflammation loves heat and lack of movement, two things which happen when you’re wrapped up cosy in bed at night. If your low back pain is “really bad”, see someone about it immediately. The above information will help the majority of people but there’s no telling of the extent of your injury without a professional opinion. Through examination and possible medical imaging (xray, CT scan or MRI), your therapist may uncover an underlying problem predisposing you to successive injuries. He or she should also provide you with therapeutic home exercises so that you can “self-treat” your condition. The McKenzie method for treatment of back pain may also be of great help for your back pain.
Do not adopt the attitude, “I will just leave it alone and everything will be alright”. If you neglect to service your car regularly it won’t function at its best, the same applies to your spine. For any injury, pain or discomfort, be it in your lower back or elsewhere, always get some professional advice. Speak to your therapist now – the sooner the better!
*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained in this discussion are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.