Low Back First Aid

When taking history from patients who present with new low back pain, I often find that they could have limited the severity of their injury. Especially injuries that have muscle spasm as a major component. Muscle injuries can be very painful, make it difficult to move, and can cause spinal joints to move improperly or become immobile. These are some of the most common injuries that I see in the office. Weekend warriors, do-it-yourselfers, spring cleaners, and those who work in the yard are all at risk.

Pay Attention to What is Causing Your Pain

Muscle injuries can often become worse within 12 to 24 hours, so when we feel some minor pain, pulling, or tightness this could be the signal to back off. If your are working and lifting or move incorrectly and feel a twinge of pain or something pop, then stop and take it easy. Those who soldier on and figure that it will be okay, many times are the same folks who come crawling in wondering what caused their pain.

Treat With Heat Later, Not First

While it initially feels good and often loosens in the short term, using heat (heating pad, hot bath/shower, hot tub) should be avoided within the first 48 hours after an injury to the low back. If your pain is strong and you are having a hard time finding a comfortable position, try to lie on your back (on a firm surface) with your knees bent. Some patients are comfortable lying on a couch with their legs hanging over the arm (bent knee position).

Some basic tips to follow:

  1. Do not use heat
  2. Apply ice for 20mins each hour (paper towel between ice & skin)
  3. Avoid strong or excessive (painful) stretching
  4. Rest in a comfortable position, try to walk slowly periodically
  5. Present to Matthews Chiropractic Center for chiropractic care

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