This week’s blog is going to stray a bit from the usual format. I’m going to postpone the already prepared blog about hip bursitis and discuss the mild lower back pain that I woke up with this morning. Time for me to be the patient!
As is often the case with acute lower back pain, I have no idea why this is occurring. I woke up with a mild ache on the right side which is causing me to move much slower than I usually would. Like everyone else in this situation I’m tracing back over my activities for the past few days. I started yesterday with a short workout before treating patients…nothing out of the ordinary. So what should I do? Perhaps I should try and figure out the diagnosis! Should I look it up on Google? Ha! In case you can’t pick up on my tone, I would strongly recommend against searching the internet for a diagnosis of your condition. Usually, Dr. Google is wrong. I’m fortunate that I can ask my wife for her opinion (she’s also a Chiropractor). If I didn’t have this luxury I should seek the help of a qualified health professional with the education (and legal right) to diagnose my condition.
In the meantime, before I get an opportunity to see a health professional, what should I do? The following are some common recommendations that our clinic gives our patients. Keep in mind that this is not “official advice”. Think of it more as some general information for interest sake. These recommendations are based on scientific evidence and some educated common sense. If you’re a patient of ours you likely recognize some of it!
Lower Back Pain and Ice
Many people like the feeling of heat. Although this might provide some temporary relief, it isn’t likely to help. If anything, it has a greater chance of prolonging your recovery. We usually recommend the application of ice in short duration. Ten minutes on, ten minutes off, ten minutes on. The purpose of ice is to assist in reducing inflammation.
In the past we would recommend that patients with acute lower back pain lie in bed for a few days and allow healing to occur. The scientific evidence doesn’t support this. We usually recommend to our patients that they try to keep moving as best they can without exacerbating their condition. A good brisk walk is generally the idea.
Avoid Heavy Lifting
Perhaps this is some of that “educated common sense”. Very obvious, no explanation required.
Sitting and Lower Back Pain
Prolonged static postures aren’t helpful for acute lower back pain. Whether lying, standing or sitting, staying still for long periods is not helpful. A common mistake for those experiencing acute lower back pain is sitting with poor posture. Sometimes life can’t be put on hold and even though your back is hurting you still have to go to work and sit at a desk for the day. In this case, do your best at getting up every twenty or thirty minutes and walk around a little.
On a regular basis, patients search the web and read horrible advice. I realize that this information you’re reading right now is on the web, but it’s always best to meet your “expert” in person and make sure they’re basing their opinion on a solid foundation of science and not just opinion.
Stretching and Lower Back Pain
Until your condition is properly diagnosed, don’t try and help. Don’t stretch your lower back. Brisk walking, general movements within a pain-free range and no stretching (even if it feels really good).
Hope that helps! Now that I’ve been sitting at the computer for almost a half hour, I have to get up and go for a walk. Then I’m going to put ice on my lower back. After that, I’ll probably ask Dr. Leslie to fix me!