So, I did it again, just to see. I googled “stretches for back pain”. I did this many years ago as one of our first Burlington Sports Therapy blog entries to illustrate how ridiculous the internet can be when it comes to expert opinion and getting health related information. Beware! The first time I did this I specifically searched “stretches for sciatica”. I did this because most cases of nerve irritation stemming from the lumbar spine (lower back) are aggravated with knee to chest stretching. Sure enough, the first hit on Google told me to pull that knee up to my chest to stretch the problem away. For the sake of comparison, this is similar to stretching out an acutely sprained ankle that is swollen and painful. Bad idea!
To this day, almost ten years after that early blog entry, the same advice persists for acute lower back pain. The number one hit suggests that you pull your knee to your chest and stretch out your lower back. Perhaps for some lucky people, this might work. At the same time, can I think of the last time I gave a knee to chest stretch for a patient presenting to my clinic with new onset lower back pain? Nope…probably never. What the internet didn’t ask is whether you have neurological signs or symptoms, fever, weight loss or night pain. Did the problem happen from trauma? Have you seen a professional who gave you the green light on mobilizing your back pain?
Imagine a clicking, whirring sound in your car. Instead of taking it to a qualified mechanic, do a Google search for “fix the clicking in my car”. That’s pretty vague in terms of tackling the problem or even determining what the problem is. There are many different problems that can affect cars and there are many reasons for it to click. There are probably many different types of clicks. The reality is, I have no idea. I’m a chiropractor. I can write a blog on it though if I really wanted to, which is really scary. The take home point is obvious…when it comes to important things in life, especially your health, be very careful using Google to get your information. It’s much wiser to see a professional. Not only could you get advice that doesn’t help your condition, you could be getting advice that makes your condition worse (such as knee to chest stretching for many types of lower back pain).
If you have back pain and you’re not getting better (and you’re trying some home remedies that you found on the web) please give us a call. There’s a strong chance we can do better or at the very least make sure your home remedies are safe.