Acute Back Pain:
Dr. Ben Kim
you know what it's like to have a sudden, sharp pain in your back that you know
is going to lead to several days of terrible pain and stiffness? I am very familiar
with this scenario from my own experiences with back pain and from my work as
a chiropractor for many years.
you know what this feels like, then you might find what I have to say next to
best thing that you can do for yourself as soon as you feel that familiar spasm
or pull in your back muscles is the following:
matter what you are doing - shoveling snow, carrying groceries, painting, laundry,
or exercising -stop immediately and lay down on the closest comfortable surface.
You want to lay down with your knees bent up so that your feet are flat on the
floor, or so that your calves are resting on several pillows or on a chair. As
you lay down, try to relax all of your muscles, especially the ones in your back.
You can facilitate effective relaxation by taking slow, deep breaths from your
on how badly you have pulled your muscles or ligaments, you can lay like this
for 15 minutes or 1 hour. When you feel very relaxed, try to get up slowly, turning
on your side and using your arms to help lift your upper body off the ground.
Be sure to use your thigh muscles to stand up. If you feel any pain as you try
to stand up, lay down again and relax some more.
this recommendation will significantly decrease the severity of your injury, and
will have you back to normal much sooner than if you had continued on with your
first moment that you experience sharp pain in your back is a signal that a muscle
or ligament has been stressed beyond its natural capacity. From that moment on,
if the muscle or ligament in question is still being asked to work, your body
will create inflammation in that area, which brings pain, stiffness, and swelling.
Why does your body do this? Because pain, stiffness, and swelling are parts of
a protective response that your body uses to get you to rest that area until it
you see why popping a pain killer in this situation is not in your best interest?
If you numb yourself to pain, then you'll probably continue being active, not
giving your injured tissues a chance to rest and recover. This is a great way
to worsen your injury and prolong your suffering. And let's not forget the negative
side effects that pain killers have on your stomach, liver and kidneys.
At the first sign
of sharp pain in their backs, many people choose to continue working, finding
that if they stay active and warm, they don't stiffen up and they are able to
remain functional for a few hours or the rest of the day. Continuing to be active
after the initial injury causes your body to produce natural pain killers like
endorphins, which gives you the illusion that you are fine. The problem with this
is that while you are not feeling much discomfort, your injured tissues are continuously
being stressed, which will increase your pain and stiffness later on that day
or the next morning.
laying down at the first twinge of back pain, you will minimize damage to your
injured tissues. You will also minimize inflammation, which will lead to less
pain and stiffness. Sometimes, if the injury isn't too severe and you are able
to lay down right away, you might be totally fine as soon as you stand up.
this recommendation can mean the difference between having back pain for one hour
or for one week. Please try it the next time you feel that awful pull or twinge
in your back.
some people make a trip to a physical therapist, chiropractor, or massage therapist
right after injuring their backs. Unless your injury is causing you to lose control
over your urine flow and bowel movements, I highly recommend that you first try
about all of the stress that your back faces in going for treatment. You have
to get into your car, make the drive to the office, get out of the car, sit in
the waiting room, get up onto the treatment table, and all of the above in reverse.
Believe me, in most cases, it is far more beneficial to lay down on your living
room floor for an hour than to put your back through all of these steps. And your
floor is free.
you still have pain or stiffness after resting right after your injury and do
not experience gradual improvement over the next few days, that might be a good
time to visit a practitioner who can provide treatment that will hopefully help
your injured tissues heal properly. More on choosing a good practitioner in a
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