A funny thing happened to me last week. Believe it or not, I was demonstrating a low back stretch that I didn’t want a patient to do and I ended up straining my back. In actual fact, I believe I caused some facet joint irritation. This has proven to be a valuable experience for me…
Facet joint irritation in the lower back is very common and we have posted several blogs on the topic. To simplify the facet joint, they are joints that we have at every level of our spine and are highly innervated. They are usually aggravated with rotation and extension movements. In my case, I have no underlying back pain or lower back condition. Given my age, I would expect that I have some mild arthritis in these levels of the lower back (L4-5-S1).
At the moment that I twisted my back I felt a “twinge.” Now I know what that feels like as it has been described to me many times by my patients. The orthopedic test was positive at the moment of the injury and I knew what I was experiencing was facet joint irritation. Over the course of the next several hours, the muscles in the area began to tighten. This was likely due to inflammation and the neurological response of my spinal structures to the injury (muscular tightening).
At the time of writing this blog I’m about 75% better. The following are some of the things that I did to recover…
- Brisk Walking
- No sitting around; I tried to keep moving as best I could without over-stressing the area
- No heavy lifting
- Laser therapy
- Active Release Technique
- Spinal Manipulation
- Interferential Current while gently mobilizing my lower back
- Repeated ice (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off repeated)
- Obviously, no lower back stretching but just some gentle mobility exercises (Cat / Cow)
- Massage Therapy
There are many options for treating lower back pain. Chiropractic, Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy are a few offered at our clinic and therefore options readily available to me. I’ve learned a few lessons from this experience. My back was quite sore. More sore than I have ever experienced, yet I believe it was much less serious than most of the people that I get to treat every day. At the same time, it gave me some insight into what my patients experience and what they feel during treatments. Probably the most valuable lesson is to not show my patients what I don’t want them doing… I’ll just describe it to them!