We have multiple patients every week that have "thrown their back out". This term could mean anything from "I can't stand up straight" to "It's the worst pain ever" or "My old bad back is acting up again". Regardless of your circumstances, back pain is a scary and painful problem. Where do you turn? Most people either ask their immediate family and their own pride (I mean knowledge) for advice or they ask friends or FaceBook what to do. In today's article, hopefully I can give you some general yet effective and accurate advice if you ever find yourself up back pain creek without a paddle.
Sound Advice for Acute Low Back Pain
#1: Ice, Don't Heat. All new or acute
pain has an inflammatory component to it. Heat throws gasoline on the fire with inflammatory conditions. Heat may feel good at the time, but you will be sorry you slept on that old heating pad the next morning. You need a gel ice pack (flexible when frozen and substantial in size and weight). Lay on your back, on the floor (unless you're certain you'll never get up if you get down; then use the bed), place the ice pack under your back with a t-shirt thick layer between your skin and the ice, put your feet up on the couch or ottoman. Stay there for 20 minutes or until your pain spot goes from cold to uncomfortable to numb. Do this every 2 hours. It's a good idea, if your stomach can handle it, to take Ibuprofen or Aleve to further fight that inflammation and pain. I'd rather go au naturale, drastic times call for appropriate measures.
#2: Learn To Move Again Pain Free. After you ice your back, you should have a window of opportunity to re-learn to move while your problem is less inflamed. Move that chair out of the way and put your feet on the floor now with knees bent. Grab your phone and watch our video called "abdominal bracing". While braced, lift your butt up using your heels and shoulders. No pain? Great! Pain? Keep trying! When you've mastered that try to lift one foot off the ground and then the other while braced. Pain? Keep trying. No pain? Great! (You get the idea). Next, while braced, try to roll to one side then the other. Next, roll all the way over to your belly. Mastered all those, get up and crawl. Then and only then, go for a walk. Walking is great for low back pain, but if you can't roll over or crawl without pain, I suggest walking will make you worse, so go back to the basics.
#3: Make Good Decisions. Wow, that's vague, obvious, and difficult! OK, sorry! What I mean is our instincts commonly mislead us, so be suspicious and remember these guidelines. If you're a determined person (you know who you are), don't stretch the pain. Very often it feels right to stretch the pain, but take my word for it, you will be incredibly lucky if you fix it and likely make yourself a lot worse. See #2 in re-learning to move pain free. Don't go to YouTube and jump on the first one you see. Over half of the battle is a good diagnosis and without that you're blindly throwing darts at attempting a remedy. Don't get depressed about your problem, which is very tempting in these types of situations. Stress will increase your body's inflammation and your spot's pain level, and worrying has never helped and will not start with you.
#4: Get Some Help (Professional Help). If you've done steps 1-3 as diligently as possible and you're on day 3 of your problem, you should be at least 40% better if it's "just a fluke back problem" without too many strings attached (which is what we all want..."I'll be fine!"). If you're 10% better or no better at all, you've done good things, not made yourself worse, and it's now time to seek professional help. Here's what we do at Cumberland Chiropractic and Sports Medicine. #1: Accurate Diagnosis i.e. figure out the actual nerve, muscle or joint (including disc) that is generating your problem. #2: Bullies and Victims i.e. most every time there is a pain, there is a cause. If you don't find that cause you are doomed to repeat this incident. #3: Specific Treatment. Usually, the task involves precise nerve or muscle work, picky chiropractic adjustments and then tailored inflammation reducing strategies (Laser Therapy, High Speed Vibration, Ice, etc., We Got Options). #4: Home Care: We pick 2-3 unique movement strategies, exercises or stretches that reduce your number of "ouch's" and repair that bad pattern or tissue, which caused your problem in the first place....If you'll notice, I used all the words to describe a tailored treatment vs. blindly throwing darts at your problem.
The next time you have a serious back problem that pops up, heaven forbid, use the first 3 strategies. Hopefully you will quickly be on the road to recovery. If you need help Google: Chiropractor Near Me or Chiropractor Lebanon TN if you're near us and then give us a call, we'd love to help. If it's not your back, some of the same principles work, or we'd love to help that too. We treat muscle, nerve or joint problems literally from head to toe. Thanks for reading!