Recently a good friend that lives out of state had an acute episode of low back pain. My wife, being more involved with Facebook than me, saw that he had put a posting on Facebook and there were numerous people giving “advice”. She asked if I had seen the posting, which received a quick “no”, and then she thought I should give some quality recommendations. Being curious, I decided to look at what people had written. Most of the advice was TERRIBLE which gave me the idea to write this article in an attempt to have some good advice floating around.
Advice for Sudden onset of back pain
Chill out -- Not Heating pads! Applying ice for 20 min, off for an hour and then repeating several times will help decrease local inflammation. With an injury there is inflammation and heat commonly will make inflammatory conditions worse. I am yet to see a person put ice on a new injury and it make them feel worse, however I can not count the times I have seen the opposite happen with heating pads, hot packs or Therma-Care patches. → Moral of the story, when in doubt choose ICE over heat!
Move but don’t stretch hard. Dr.Gordon Wadell, MD wrote a book called “The Back Pain Revolution”. To quote him directly he stated,”...a death sentence for a bad back is bed rest”. Any movement that is relatively pain free, such as walking or doctor prescribed exercise, is better than laying on your back waiting for it to get better. However, often I have seen people try to stretch out a back or neck problem only to make it worse. Gentle movements in the pain free zone are the way to start your recovery. → Moral here: Move gingerly. Don’t lay around. Walking is therapeutic and don’t try to stretch through pain.
Seek the Advice of a professional. Often patients receive exercises that are prescribed to help their back. Exercises given to your friend may actually make your condition worse because every patient is unique, as is their condition. For example, bending forward is often good for a person with spinal stenosis but will absolutely wreck a person with a disc injury. If we don’t know what condition the patient has then there is no way to give good advice. I commend people for trying to help their spouse, neighbor, friend or stranger, but I hate to see people doing more harm than good because their friend gave them a stretch or exercise that they had done in the past for different condition. → Moral: Get a diagnosis from a trained health care provider so YOU get the right advice for YOUR condition.
This is just scratching the surface for advice on back pain. The back is a complex structure, so being judicious with advice is only way to prevent further injury to yourself or to your friend (…and if your wondering if I posted on my friend’s Facebook page, sorry, I didn’t. I called him up and learned a lot more and sent him to a good doc). For more information or health tips please visit WWW.IMSJC.COM or call 615-302-4747.