Our patients often ask if they should use ice or heat on a back injury or pain. They want to know what is the proper way to treat their back pain. Ignore it? Stretch it out? Exercise or don’t exercise? It is difficult for the average person to know. Here is some information that may be of help.
Treating A Recent Pain
A recent pain caused by an activity or accidental injury like a fall, a blow, or a pulled muscle from a sport is called an acute pain. Treatment for acute pains differs from treatment for something you have been suffering constantly for years. So what do you do for an acute low back pain?
- First of all should be avoid sitting as much as possible. Sitting places twice as much compression on your spine as standing so stand or lie down but do not sit any longer than you have to.
- Acute pains require ice packs which help reduce the pain and swelling. Place ice packs on a piece of cloth or paper towel, never directly on the skin, but only for 15 minutes. Then allow the area to warm up on its own for 45 minutes before the next application of an ice pack for another 15 minutes.
- Avoid stretching or exercising the hurt area unless you feel immediate pain relief from that activity. First get a good examination by a musculo-skeletal specialist like a well trained chiropractor. After the exam, pain free exercises like walking helps. Also special stabilization exercises like Foundation Training strengthen the muscles protecting your spine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7DraYOwl5Q
- For a forceful injury, x-ray studies rule out broken or displaced bones before therapies are considered.
Call Us For Help When Needed
Call to have your back examined after an injury. We can help you through examination to determine the nature of your injury. We then set up a treatment program with two goals; to get you out of pain as soon as possible and promote long term healing and stabilization. This way the likelihood of your pain returning is much less than if you just take some pills and rest and hope that everything heals completely.
When you only rest and take pain pills you will not return your body to proper normal function. Our hands on care restores that normal function and gets you out of pain more quickly so that your whole connected system of bones, muscles, and ligaments heal properly.
Treating Over Use Back Pains
House work, yard work, long hours of desk work, heavy lifting jobs, child care, sports, exercise work outs can all cause over use back pains. In these cases, the muscles feel sore, painful, sometimes burning. And, on occasion, if a trigger point is present, over use of muscles can cause numbness and tingling or pain referral mimicking a pinched nerve.
Knotted up and complaining overused muscles like wet heat. Microwave hot packs, hydrocollator packs that are heated in hot water, hot water bottles, hot showers or baths, and even toweling run under hot water and wrung out then placed on the painful muscles count as wet heat.
Epsom salt baths are also a great way to treat over worked muscles. The magnesium in the Epsom salts soaks into the skin and relaxes muscle tightness.
What Else Can Help Over Use Muscle Pains?
Muscle therapy can help a lot and that is why we include it as part of our treatment. But going to a masseuse and getting an hour long massage while lying face down makes many people with recent back pain feel worse. When we treat our patients we never have them lie face down for very long period. Just the act of lying face down for long when you have low back pain will likely increase your pain.
As chiropractors we find the most effective treatment for painful low backs with muscle knots is to make sure the joints and the muscles move as freely as they should. When we find stuck joints we use manipulation and give a gentle push to restore normal mobility to the joint. We follow up with muscle therapy work to restore the normal pain free movement to your tight and tender muscle areas.
We also use a relatively new technique called kinesiotaping that can help when people have pain.
What About Trigger Points?
For treatment of a trigger point, we use a combination of hands on treatment and/or other therapies such as ultrasound to break up the trigger point. Trigger points are often left over from old injuries. Reducing stress, avoiding caffeine, wet heat, avoiding cold drafts on the muscle, and resting the muscle all ease trigger point pains.
If back pain of any type interferes with your quality of life, give us a call. We will check out the problem and give you guidance on the proper treatments for your specific problem.
Back Pain Due To Poor Posture Or Muscle Imbalances
Sitting slouched forward or standing with your head looking down at your cell phone eventually causes back pain. You can add to the list of spine aggravating activities these common problems:
- Sleeping on your stomach.
- Exercising your chest a lot while not exercising your mid back.
- Having flat feet.
What do all these activities have in common? Postural muscle imbalances.
These problems require a combination of the above mentioned types of care. In addition they require the proper stabilizing exercises to balance all the many muscle groups in your body so that they equalize the pull on your spine properly.
Some muscles need stretching while others need strengthening. We prefer the Foundation Training exercises because they do not require special equipment or even a gym membership. They are also very efficient and effective at stretching and strengthening the postural muscles. https://www.foundationtraining.com/
How you use your body every day, known as ergonomics, is extremely important for avoiding back pain and for avoiding recurrence of your pain. Setting up your desk set up properly if you have a desk job helps. Sitting in your chair properly with feet on the floor and chair back supporting you and not looking down at your work makes a big difference. Not sleeping on your stomach helps. Lifting correctly is also important.
We Can Help
If you are wondering if we can help you…. Give us a call at 978-535-6155. We offer free 15 minute consultations to find out more about your condition and concerns and then can give you information about if we can help and what or approach would be offered for your condition.