Back pain is probably the most widespread, common, and potentially disabling injury in modern society.
It is also one of the most misunderstood.
It is commonly thought that prompt diagnosis and treatment of sudden onset (often called acute) back pain by well qualified physiotherapists gives those suffering from acute back pain, the best chance to resolve this problem quickly and avoid longer term problems and re-occurrence.
What you may feel:
- You will have immediate pain that is worse when you move into a certain direction
You may have:
- Pins and needles/numbness in your hands or legs
- Tightness or referred pain into you gluteal (bottom) muscles
- Pain when breathing deeply or coughing
- Pain at night initially
How does it happen?
Often back injuries happen when you least expect it and with any movements:
- Bending forward and twisting as you picked something up
- Jumping and landing in an extended position
- Twisting suddenly
What is the cause?
The joints in your back have ligaments, cartilage and a capsule just like any other joint in your body.
And just like you can sprain your ankle or thumb, you can also sprain your back joints.
This causes the same response, as if you had sprained your ankle – pain and swelling etc
What should you do?
Initially you should perform:
- Active rest – Try to keep your back moving within your pain limits
- Avoid aggravating activities
- Heat – Every hour place a heat pack on the sore area for 10-15 minutes
- Medicine – Paracetamol pain relief straight away
- Massage – Gentle massage is ok, as long as it is not painful
Make an appointment with your physiotherapist for assessment, treatment and advice
You should avoid:
- Prolonged sitting
- Heavy lifting
- Complete rest
Research has shown that X-rays provide little or no help in diagnosis acute back pain, and in many cases can provide false and misleading causes of the pain.
How long before you have recovered?
It depends on the severity of the injury. A back sprain can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
Usually with physiotherapy and a home exercise program you will feel a lot better within a week.
You may not be completely free of pain but you will be able to function a lot better and with decreased pain
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