What to do when you have acute low back pain.
Now, I am sure you have heard or been told by myself or one of our health professionals that the MOST IMPORTANT to do when you have non-specific acute lower back pain is to KEEP MOVING.
This doesn’t mean we expect you to move as much as you would normally and cause high levels of pain. It just means, whatever movement you tolerate that doesn’t send your pain sky rocketing. It is completely reasonable that in the presence of acute low back pain you will want to rest in bed as this is generally the position of least pain. This is fine, however, it should only occur in the first 2 days after the onset. There are 2 really important facts that accompany this advice.
- PAIN DOES NOT EQUAL HARM. The non-specific diagnosis suggests there is no tissue damage. This means any pain you may experience when moving is not because of any harm to the tissues, but because there is acute inflammation coupled with muscle spasms, stiff joints and that yo
- NOT MOVING PROLONGS THE LENGTH OF PAIN AND RECOVERY. By not moving your muscles shorten, joints then become stiffer, the muscles become weaker and psychosocial factors such as stress, depression fear and anxiety about your pain start to develop.
Now, these 2 facts are generally the biggest barriers to patients not getting better quick!
As well as keeping moving, it is really important to get the pain and inflammation under control early! It is at this point that as a registered Physiotherapist I can not comment on medication as it is outside my scope of practice. However, I recommend seeking advice from your GP or pharmacist to ensure you can decrease your pain and inflammation as quickly and safely as possible. This will allow you to move more and of course will mean a quicker return to function.
The final must-do when you’re experiencing acute lower back pain is return to your “normal” as soon as possible. This means both your work and social life. On average 90% of non-specific acute low back pain cases do not need to stay off work and 75% of specific low back pain cases return within 4 weeks. Several studies have found the sooner a person gets back to their “normal” routine the better the outcome of their recovery.
So let’s recap. The 3 must dos when you are experiencing acute lower back pain are:
- KEEP MOVING- NB: PAIN DOESN’T EQUAL HARM & NOT MOVING PROLONGS RECOVERY
- GET THE PAIN AND INFLAMMATION UNDER CONTROL EARLY
- RETURN TO YOUR “NORMAL” AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
If you have any questions about this episode or would like me to write on a specific topic in the future please feel free