How to get rid of back pain
A guide on how to get rid of back pain in 5 easy steps.
Back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. Back pain is the second most common reason people go to the doctor. Most causes of back pain are mechanical and therefore fixable with the right care.
If you've never experienced debilitating back pain, count yourself as lucky! If you have, you know how back pain can affect every other part of your life, lowering your overall quality of life. I'm writing this article as a guide to help YOU regain your quality of life. I am NOT going to be talking about quick fixes for taking away symptoms.
Before you read an further, I need you to understand that this information is not meant to replace the professional opinion of a doctor. If you are concerned about your back pain, the first step you should take is to consult a chiropractor for an evaluation. Call my office at 07 5474 1473 for a free consultation.
Step 1: Lets discover the cause of your back pain.
The first thing we need to know is what is is causing the pain. In order to figure this out you need to know what you do that causes the pain to get 1 - worse and 2 -better. Bend forward and then arch backward. Lean to the right and then to the left. Give yourself a hug and rotate at the waist to the right and then left. Make sure to note which motion created more pain.
Where was the pain located? If the pain you are experiencing is radiating pain or numbness that shoots into the buttocks, legs or feet OR if you have muscle weakness in your legs, stop here and call my office for a consultation. Radiating pain can mean you have a more serious problem and at the least you need to be evaluated by a competent chiropractor.
For pain located in the lower back on the right or left side, you may have a sacroiliac injury. If the pain is located in the center of the low back or diffuse across the whole lower back, you may have facet joint jamming. This is especially noted with pain when you arch your back and lean backward. If you have non-radiating pain when you lean forward or actively use your muscles to rotate your body, you may be suffering from a sprain/strain to the back muscles.
Step 2: The best thing to do is what you don't do.
Once you know the cause of you back pain, the best thing to do is STOP doing whatever makes the problem worse!
If you determined through step one that your pain is coming from a sacroiliac joint problem then avoid the following.
1- Unilateral weight bearing. That is to say, putting weight on one side instead of carrying your weight evenly. Examples of this are going up and down stairs, getting in and out of a car, bending over to tie your shoe, climbing a ladder...etc. Avoid any movement where you would put more weight on one side that the other.
2- Uneven sitting. If your job or lifestyle requires a lot of sitting, either put both feet forward or both feet back but not one forward and one back. This promotes a twist to your pelvis which can continue to strain the SI joint.
3- Avoid bending and twisting movements. Bend and twisting add a lot of force to the pelvis and cause further injury. If you must lift, do it with your legs. Once you pick something up, move your entire body before you set it back down to avoid twisting while carrying weight. This is one of the most common causes for SI joint injuries.
If you determined through step one that your pain is coming from facet joint jamming then avoid the following.
1 - Leaning backward. Arching the back can continue to promote facet joint jamming.
2- Don't lift anything that's heavy. Using your back muscles to lift objects can promote additional facet joint jamming by increasing the arch in your lower back. You have to stops causing the problem before the body can heal.
If you determined through step one that your pain is likely coming from a sprain/strain, avoid the following.
1 - Avoid any overuse of the muscle in your lower back. A sprain/strain basically means that damage has occurred to the soft tissues in your low back like muscles, tendons and ligaments. You must stop over using these soft tissues to prevent their further injury and allow them time to heal.
2 - Avoid quick, jerky like movement. Quick sudden movements are more likely to re-injure the damaged soft tissues. If you must use the muscles it is always best to perform slow and controlled movements to avoid further injury.
Step 3: RICE, ice ..... and sometimes heat.
There is an old mnemonic that almost everyone who's ever played sports knows quite well!
RICE: Rest, Ice, Compress & Elevate
This is a great rule of thumb for acute (recent) injuries. When it comes to back pain from an injury, the first thing you want to do is get an ice pack on it. Because of the injury, the body is creating quite a lot of inflammation. While good and necessary, inflammation in excess can create a lot of pain and slow the healing process. We want a good blood supply coming into the site of injury to promote healing. We also want the old blood that doesn't have any healing properties left to hurry up and get out of the way and make room for new, good blood. This is where ice comes in handy. Getting ice on the site of injury reduces EXCESSIVE swelling and gives the old blood and chance to make room for the fresh, oxygen and nutrient rich blood to help the healing process
You can compress the lower back by using a lumbar support belt. You can buy these at most chemists for fairly cheap. I only recommend the temporary use of a lumbar support belt while experiencing acute pain. If you wear the belt too much, if can weaken the muscles of the low back and lead to more back pain.
When back pain is chronic it's good to use a little heat. When I say chronic what I am referring to is that the localized inflammation is no longer there. This can range from days to weeks or even months after an injury depending on how often you keep re-injuring it. At this point it is OK to add a little heat to promote good blood flow into the site of pain. We want all the good blood and oxygen to come in and assist the healing process. Heat is a natural inflammatory and is a great way to get blood flowing to a chronic injury. Again, only do this once there is no longer any acute inflammation occurring at the location of pain.
Step 4: Stretches and exercises.
So if you're between a 0 and say.....6 on a pain scale where 0 is no pain and 10 is the worst pain you can possibly imagine, move on to stretches and exercises. However, if you're between a 7 (please give me some drugs...NOW!) and a 10 (I'm ready to end it all!), go straight to step number 5.
I have put together some really great packets of stretches and exercises for most general low back problems. There are 2 separate packets labeled Phase 1 and Phase 2. Obviously you are going to start with the Phase 1's and move on to the Phase 2's. The phase 1 packets contains good stretches and some light exercises whereas the Phase 2's build on the phase ones and are a little more advanced. If you're used to working out in a gym, these exercises are going to seem like baby stuff but hey.... do them anyways. They aren't meant to make you buff or give you perfect abs. They're designed to stretch and strengthen the deep intrinsic muscles that are commonly responsible for back problems.
You can find my exercises page by clicking HERE.
Step 5: Seek the help of a real back pain professional at Laguna Bay Chiropractic.
Give yourself a couple of days. Take it easy for heaven's sake, life will still be there when your back is better!
If you have STILL having back pain after a few days of: 1 - Avoiding re-injury by using good posture, proper sitting, proper bending and using good common sense. 2 - Using rest, ice, compression and sometimes heat. 3 - Stretching and performing light exercises. It's time to give me a call and get an evaluation.
Call me to schedule a free consultation to see if getting chiropractic care is right for you.
07 5474 1473