Managing your back pain

Managing your back pain

Spinal pain may occur for no specific reason. This may be as a result of accumulated load(repeated heavy work or exercise) prolonged poor posture, skeletal irregularities (scoliosis or osteoporosis) or arthritis.

In sudden onset back pain, this may be caused by unexpected movement or heavy lifting. Structures that may be injured or overloaded may be spinal ligaments, muscles, spinal discs or nerve tissue irritation. Most back pain is due to minor sprains or strains of soft tissue.The body may develop muscle spasm which can be quite uncomfortable. This is the body protecting you from structural damage by continuing with the same provocative movement or activity.

Try to stay positive – there is a lot you can do to help yourself when you have back pain.

The Facts

  • The spine is very strong and is designed to move, so if you try to keep moving your back you will have a better chance of recovery
  • Bed rest is not a treatment for back pain however back pain can initially be very intense,and you may have to reduce your activities at first
  • Stress and tension can increase the pain you feel, so try to reduce tension using breathing and relaxation techniques
  • If you need to lie down because of your back you must try to get moving within a day or two as if you don’t use your back it will weaken very quickly.
  • X-rays and scans are very rarely required for managing back pain.

What can you do to help yourself?

This depends on how severe your pain is:

If you are taking pain medication or anti-inflammatories, take them regularly as prescribed, usually for a few days, however you may need to take them for a little longer.

  • Don’t wait until your pain is out of control to take medication
  • Using an ice pack(10-20) minutes for pain can be effective initially
  • Using a heat pack may enable you to gently increase your movement
  • Change position regularly. Try not to stay in one position for longer than 20-30 minutes Try to find a movement that you can do that allows your back to resume a normal position.
  • Try to stay at work- if possible

How Physiotherapy can help:

  • Hands on physiotherapy can help to get your back moving better and reduce your pain.
  • Dry needling, postural taping and neural tissue treatments can all assist with back pain management.
  • Gradually build up your activity and exercises over a few days or weeks with guidance as to the most suitable exercises is important.
  • Don’t wait for your pain to disappear to start moving again- the sooner you get going, the better you will feel.
  • General exercise and physical fitness are very important and help you recover more quickly. Walking, cycling and swimming are good activities to build up gradually. Your physiotherapist will be able to give you more information regarding this.