You may know someone whose back has “gone out.” It may even have happened to you. When you suddenly have pain in your lower back, this is called an acute episode and the pain can be extreme, and it can be scary. The pain may make it hard for you to follow your regular routine. For example, you may not be able to put on your shoes or drive to work. The good news is that there are steps you can take immediately to help relieve the pain.
Dos and Don’ts of Low Back Pain
When an acute episode of back pain strikes, follow the simple guidelines below:
• Do apply ice for 30 minutes every 2 hours.
• Do avoid movements that hurt, but move as much as you can. It is usually easier after you ice.
• Do try an anti-inflammatory pain reliever. A pain reliever such as ibuprofen or naproxen may help relieve mild pain. It may also help decrease inflammation.
Do call your health care practitioner if your pain worsens or doesn’t improve in the first 48 hours. Or call if you feel changes such as numbness or muscle weakness.
• Don’t apply heat for the first 48 hours.
• Don’t bend, twist, or lift.
Don’t stay in bed or completely avoid all activity.
Do seek immediate medical care if:
Your back pain is the result of a severe injury or fall
You notice a loss of bowel or bladder control
You have sudden severe loss of sensation or function in your lower body
You have an unexplained fever with your back pain
The first acute episode of back pain will often improve on its own when you take care of it properly. However if there is a delay in your recovery of more than 3-5 days or if this is not the first episode you should be evaluated to determine any underlying conditions that may be contributing to this delay or why you are having repeated episodes.
It may still seem scary to have an acute episode of low back pain, but these dos and don’ts can help you take care of yourself when you have an acute episode. If the pain doesn’t subside in 3-5 days, or this is not the first episode of back pain you have experienced, you may have an underlying weakness in the deep muscles of the spine. Studies have shown 80% of chronic or repetitive episodes of spinal pain is due to muscle weakness. If you are experiencing repetitive episodes or continual back pain be sure to talk to your health care practitioner. At The Center for Total Back Care the foundation of our rehabilitation is the MedX Medical Spinal Testing and Rehabilitation machines. These machines isolate the muscles of the spine and determine the source of weakness and then utilizing this information can strengthen the specific weakness. If you are experiencing back pain call us today to schedule an evaluation and MedX strength test and get back to living a pain free life.