Managing Acute Low Back Pain

Don’t Panic

Don’t forget that the severity of the pain is usually not an indication of how serious the problem is. Most patients in extremely acute pain have got simple muscle spasms which although incredibly painful, are usually resolved quickly.

Use ice – not heat

The worst part of an acute condition is that the inflammation makes the joint swell. Think of it as a sprained ankle and put a packet of frozen peas wrapped in a thin tea-towel on the painful area. Apply for 10-15 minutes every 1-2 hours – even if initially it feels sore, it will help. NB: Do not use if suffering from diabetes or very poor circulation.

Keep mobile

Be as mobile as you can. If you can get out of bed, do so at regular intervals. Gently move and walk around the room.

Listen to your back – Pain is a warning sign

If what you are doing hurts, please stop. Don’t try to push through the pain.

Rest as comfortably as you can

There isn’t any right or wrong position, just do whatever feels best. Most patients find lying on their back with their knees bent (place a rolled up duvet under your knees) is fairly comfortable.

Don’t lie flat on the floor

Unless it’s your most comfortable position. Lying with your legs straight on a very hard surface generally increases the load at the bottom of your back.

Don’t have a hot bath

The heat will aggravate the inflammation and the position can make you seize up.

Be careful with medication

Do take whatever you need to get relief (ask your doctor for advice/prescription) but remember that tablets do not actually cure or heal your problem – they just mask the pain. You should still be very careful even when you start to feel better.

Accept Help

Utilise help from your family and friends. Don’t be proud, you can always pay them back later!

See your Chiropractor

If the pain persists past 48 hours you will need a thorough examination to diagnose the exact nature of the problem. We can then make sure that it doesn’t develop into a chronic problem and get you back to normal activities as soon as possible. Early manipulation is suggested in The Royal College of GP’s guidelines for treating acute low back pain.

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