One of the most common complaints I see in the office is lower back pain of insidious onset or of the “I just woke up with it” variety. Ever wonder what to do? Most of my patients, when asked, say ‘I put heat on it or I took a pain killer,” but is that what we should really do? When you wake up in the morning with back pain you should immediately assess the situation, where is my pain? Is it going down my leg? How far? Are my legs numb? Can I walk?
Without question the number one mistake made with lower back pain is the application of a heating pack over the painful area. DO NOT DO THIS! Acute lower back pain is an inflammation injury. This means there is inflammation of your spine or inflammation of muscle/ligaments of your lower back and there is fluid (or an inflammatory response) in this region meaning there is swelling even though you may not be able to see it. I tell every patient to treat it like a sprained ankle.
So I put ice on it. What else do I do? Assess the severity of your injury. IF you have any tingling, numbness or weakness down your leg then you are dealing with a disc injury or some varying sort of a nerve root compression. Lay in the most comfortable position you can get in and avoid laying on your stomach, a reclining chair is GENERALLY most comfortable. Call Chiropractic Associates of Centerville for an examination and we will either treat you immediately or get you to the appropriate provider. Chiropractic Associates of Centerville has many treatments available including lumbar decompression. It’s important to not let this type of injury linger as you can EASILY make it worse.
If your injury does not have any referred pain down the leg and you just feel a grabbing of muscle or pain in a direct area then you probably are suffering from facet syndrome (mechanical back pain) or segmental dysfunction (one of your vertebrae has lost motion). At this stage, this injury isn’t as severe as the one discussed previously but it can also EASILY turn into a disc injury or nerve compression if not treated quickly. This injury is very treatable and it responds to manipulation very quickly. Once motion is restored to these segments with a proper adjustment it’s just a matter of time till healthy again.
Are there any specific exercises/stretches I can do immediately? Yes, I can recommend several however, if any of these cause pain then they should not be performed. One, prone extension is a stretch where you lie face down and put your hands flat on the floor by your shoulders in a sphinx like position. Push yourself up keeping your pelvis/hips on the ground and hold for 3 seconds and repeat. Another stretch is called knee to chest. This requires you to lie on your back and bring one knee up with your hands. This can be repeated with both knees. Another great stretch is to grab the edges of your sink and while holding the sink squat down keeping your knees behind your toes. This will help decompress the area.
After seeing low back pain injuries in my office I tell them 4 important steps they need to follow at home. One, Ice your injury 20 minutes at a time at least 5-10 times a day, or more, based on your injury severity. Two, do not sit longer than 20 minutes, get up and move around no matter how serious your injury is. Three, use an NSAID (non-steroidal inflammatory) such as Ibuprofen for up to six weeks and follow the instructions. Four, repeatedly do exercises given or stretches given every day.
If this is your first time with lower back pain it’s important to have it checked out immediately regardless of how serious you think it is. A small injury in your mind just means it could be closer to a more serious condition. These injuries can be physically challenging, as we all know, but most people don’t understand the mental challenge you undergo. In my years of practice I’ve witnessed that some of these injuries are just as mentally challenging as they are physically, you must keep your wits and see the process through.
If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact the office as we have all the modalities , treatment protocols and expertise to get your back on your feet in no time.