What do you do when that twinge in your back becomes a debilitating pain? Recline on the couch with a heating pad and wait for it to go away?
For the majority of people who suffer from mid- to low back pain, it is due to a lumbar strain. Over time, the injury will get better and the pain will subside.
You can help send the pain packing sooner by getting up and moving. This is counterintuitive for many people because it is natural to favor an area of injury or pain to prevent exacerbating a problem.
It is not a good idea to start running, jumping, bending, heavy lifting, or participating in any activity that could further strain the area of injury. The way to start moving is to walk and to resume normal daily activities.
- Ice may be helpful to calm an acute injury to the back.
- Heat can help treat a more chronic pain.
- Anti-inflammatory medications can also ease the pain temporarily to help speed recovery.
If your back pain lasts more than a couple of weeks or if the pain radiates down your leg, it is a good idea to consult your primary care physician or physical therapist.
Of course, prevention is the best medicine. To prevent back injury, focus on strengthening your core and back muscles, don’t smoke and maintain a healthy weight.
Gurvinder Deol, MD, is an orthopaedic spine surgeon with Wake Orthopaedics who focuses on treating disorders of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine.