In previous days when somebody hurt their back or experienced back pain the course of action recommended was immobilisation, get a hard mattress, sleep on the floor. Today there is more understanding about the causes of back pain and how to recover and the one common recommendation is to move!
Back Pain can be muscular, nerve, structural which maybe disc or spinal column damage.
Back pain can be caused by muscle, nerve or structural (disc or spinal) damage. Although occasionally there are other causes such as arthritis, kidneys etc. However the majority of issues are muscular and as the NHS Choices site says “Most cases of back pain get better on their own and you may not need to see a doctor. ”
So what should you do for muscular back pain?
The NHS Choices site says to:-
- remain as active as possible and try to continue with your daily activities
- take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen if you feel you need to
- use hot or cold compression packs – you can buy these from your local pharmacy, or a bag of frozen vegetables and a hot water bottle will work just as well
This is all good advice however should you use cold or heat? Why take pain killers? What is meant by remaining active?
Why take pain killers?
It is a natural human reaction to not move if it causes pain. Pain killers can be used to reduce the level of pain so you feel that you can move. As to which pain killers to use, talk to your pharmacist and they will be able to suggest the most appropriate course of action.
Cold or Heat?
There is a lot of discussion at the moment about the effectiveness of ice. If you have injured yourself then for the first 24-48 hours I would use ice 10 minutes on and repeat hourly as much as possible however if it is something that has built up or something that has come on as an ache I would use heat.
One of the questions I quite often ask when I see people “Is it worse in the morning or in the evening?” More often than not the answer is “In the morning” The reason for this is that as the muscle warms up it becomes more effective and the pain lessens. So by using a hot water bottle you are warming the muscles up which will improve the movement and reduce the level of pain.
What is meant by remaining active?
If you are sat down or immobile for a long period of time then the muscles will seize. If you are in an office, get up, walk around, go for a coffee, go and talk to a colleague and do this every 30 minutes.
If you are at home don’t sit down for too long but you can do exercise like bringing a single knee up to your chest or swinging your knees from side to side.
Go for a walk.
Go for a swim – use the jacuzzi (nice and warm).
Get on a bike.
If it is very painful, don’t do it. But if it aches there are unlikely to be any problems and the ache is likely to go away. So go for it.
If you have any questions of want advise then contact the clinic and make an appointment to see either one of us.