The first time you experience a serious episode of backache, it can be bad enough to send you into a panic — what if you are never able to sit at a desk again? What if it cripples you?
It’s important to understand, though, that even seriously painful backache is common. Eight out of ten Americans miss work at least once in their careers for reasons of debilitating back pain, but they always bounce back. Only 5% of all complaints of backache last any longer than six weeks.
The routine to follow has been well-studied and set out in a few easy-to-follow steps. It only takes a little time and care.
Don’t do anything that makes the pain worse
When you are panicked about your back pain, you are likely to naturally want to repeatedly check yourself to see how bad it is. Trying to walk, or bending to pick up things when you have a backache is isn’t a good idea even if you’re only doing it to test yourself. It’s a far better idea to simply lie on your back with your legs raised at about 60 degrees. Wait for the pain to go away. If there are electric jolts of pain, numbness or weakness, though, you should visit a spine institute.
Try a little self-care
Try hot or cold compresses (you should try both, because each works well in different people). Rest a lot, and take anti-inflammatory medication such as Advil. If doing a few simple stretches seems to help with the pain, do them.
Open up pinched nerves
Lie down on the floor next to the sofa, put your lower legs on the seat, and relax. This position helps stop spasming in some lower back muscles and frees up any nerves that have pressure on them. If it feels good to lie down in this position, it means it’s helping. You should try the relaxation method several times a day.
Seek postural therapy
Improving posture works in at least 50% of all patients who complain of back pain. It can take some mindfulness and attention to hold oneself up straight, sit straight and walk correctly. If you can manage to learn good posture, though, it can quickly help with back pain.
If the pain doesn’t go away, find an expert
MDs, orthopedic surgeons, doctors of osteopathic medicine, neurosurgeons and physiatrists are all qualified to treat back pain. If you aren’t sure, visiting a surgeon at a specialist facility for spinal conditions can come with the best chances of an accurate diagnosis.