We’ve all had the odd ache or pain in the back from time to time. But for a few unlucky souls it can be absolutely excruciating. If you one of those souls you need to read on. If you’re not one of those read on anyway so you’ll know what to do if you or one of your loved ones are struggling now or in the future.
Back Pain Safety Points
Before we carry on, if you’re reading this we need to establish if you should be reading this or ringing for an ambulance! This will only be a tiny percentage of people, so don’t panic, but my training instils better safe than sorry. You need to answer the following questions:
- When you sit down can you feel the seat beneath you? If that area feels completely numb don’t panic, you’re not going to die, but you do need to seek medical advice immediately.
- Are you having problems with urinating or making bowel movements? If yes, same as above, give the medics a call and explain your symptoms.
- Do you have pins and needles down both legs? As above.
If you’re still with us. That’s a good thing! But you still maybe in a whole heap of pain. So what are you to do?
Now it’s easy for me to say sat here with no pain but this is super, super important. Our latest beliefs in terms of pain science suggest that the more you fear something the more it will hurt. Most pain in back pain comes from muscles. They have the most pain receptors (nociceptors) in them. Do you think it will hurt more or less if you tense up against the pain?
A very simple concept which we get all of our clients to understand is that pain is not damage. A lot of people are surprised by this. But it does make perfect sense. Here’s an example to illustrate the point.
You’re walking down the street, you go over on your ankle and shout in anguish fearing a sprained ankle. You take a couple more steps and realise everything is fine. You got the pain before you did any damage. Pain is there as a warning. Pain does not mean you are making things worse!
Take a Deep Breath – Lots Of Them In Fact
Breathing helps. It brings oxygen to the tissues. Without oxygen muscles tire out quicker meaning they become tense which would increase your pain experience. Try getting into a position of comfort and doing some slow relaxing breathing. If breathing hurts just breathe within a pain free range. The range should increase in time as you relax into the breathing exercise.
You May Wish To Consider Taking Some Tablets
Now I have to be very careful with this advice and word it correctly. I am not medical or a doctor and cannot therefore give out advice on medication. However, if you are in severe pain and you haven’t already done so than you may wish to take an over the counter painkilling and/or anti-inflammatory medication in the dosages suggested. You can take both simultaneously but read the packet to be sure. If in any doubt please consult your doctor or pharmacist first. Speaking of which…
Visit Your Doctor!
I would advise getting to your doctor at the earliest available moment. They will be able to give you super dooper drugs to knock you out to take the edge off the pain. They will also screen you for anything more scary than back pain.
Why is a Sports Therapist so keen on medication? Because it means you can function at least semi normally. The more pain you’re in, the more your movement pattern changes and the more work we have to do when you come to see us. If you can barely move when you come in there’s only so much we can achieve. If you’ve got some medication to take the edge off the pain we can get to work resolving the problem for good.
Now there maybe occasions where this is not the best advice. Namely when you’ve broken your back. I’m hoping you’ll have realised if you’ve done that. It would have been a fairly nasty event and you’re very unlikely to have broken anything without noticing!
Whilst it may hurt to get around you are much better off moving than your are static. You will only stiffen and tighten. Moving around loosens muscles. A major pain causing structure. Equally it has a lovely massaging effect on nerves. Another pain causing structure, especially in severe pain. It means they are nourished and get a fresh lot of lubrication, Castrol GTX for the nerves if you will, to enable them to slide and glide easier. This will cause less pain. Mobile nerves are happy nerves!
If you’re walking along and it’s simply no good. It’s not helping or just making things worse – this will be a minority – simply try to find a position of comfort. It doesn’t matter what it is, anything that takes the edge off. Stay there are a while and do some of that relaxing breathing we were talking about.
The Future Is Bright – Back Pain Is Curable
All the literature tells us that the vast majority of back pain gets better. As soon as you are able to move without excessive amounts of pain come and see us or an equivalent service and ask them to get you sorted for good. There are normally specific things you do or muscles you have overworked that have got you into this mess in the first place. Once these have been sorted you’ll be footloose and fancy free before you know it.
Treatment can begin immediately and we will aim to restore pain free range of movement. This can be achieved by correcting abnormal movement patterns elsewhere meaning that we can reduce the sensation in the injured area without have to touch the painful area.
Having reduced your pain we will then talk you through the best strategy to help you manage the condition in the short term and fix the problem for the long term.