back pain

Ligament sprains

There can be a number of possible causes that can contribute to lower back pain. Ligament sprains in the spine, muscles strains or spasms, arthritic joints, and disk bulges or in severe cases herniations. Strains, sprains and spasm in the back muscles and soft tissues are probably the most common causes of mild back pain discomfort. This type is often referred to as Non Specific Low Back Pain because the specific cause is often unknown, especially when the pain happens suddenly form physical exertion or lifting and the pain is along the spinal region. Serious episodes of back pain represent less than 1% but a full range of diagnosis includes a range of less common conditions of back pain cases.

What Can I Do If I Have Hurt My Back?

As this article is for general information it is recommended that anyone who injures themselves should consult with their medical provider if they are in severe pain, or they have lost function in an arm or leg, or if there is acute swelling and redness over the injured area. This could be indicative of a fractured or broken bone, a severe muscle tear, or a significant strain.

The first-line treatment for a muscular strain in the acute phase include four steps commonly known as R.I.C.E.

  • Rest: Stop all activities that are not necessary, especially any that are uncomfortable or cause pain, to prevent the injury from getting worse. The optimal position for relief when you have a back injury is to lie on the floor on your back with pillows under your knees, put your feet on a chair and bend your hips and knees, or just with your hips and knees bent. This helps to minimise and pressure and stress on your back. You may need 1 to 2 days of this sort of rest for a hurt back. Resting longer than this can cause your muscles to weaken, which can slow your recovery. Even if it hurts, walk around for a few minutes every hour to help keep your back muscles strong.
  • Ice: Applying ice to the injured area restricts the blood flow and helps to reduce the inflammation. Never ice for more than 10-15 minutes at a time. Always place a layer of cloth or barrier between the ice and the skin over the injured area to avoid skin freezing.
  • Compression: Apply a wrap to the injured area to reduce inflammation.
  • Elevation: Keep the strained area as close to the level of the heart as is conveniently possible to keep blood from pooling in the injured area.

The ice and compression will help to reduce the pain and inflammation while the healing process begins. Reducing the swelling is important to the repair process. The icing further restricts inflammatory fluids seeping into the injury area as well as reducing pain.

Cold compression therapy wraps are an effective tool to combine icing and compression to reduce pain and swelling.

What Else can Be Done?

Applying some heat may help to relax muscle spams in the injured area. It is a good suggestion to alternate the heat and ice for 10-15 minutes at a time and finishing with ice to reduce the inflammation.

Massage may provide some temporary relief if it is a muscular problem. Knots and trigger points can cause a lot of pain and aches. Some studies have suggested that massage is equally effective as transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TES) for back pain. Although too few trials of massage therapy exist for a reliable evaluation of its efficacy, massage has great benefit as a therapy for back pain. More studies may help to establish its overall validity as a back pain therapy.

Chiropractic is still the treatment of choice for acute low back pain sufferers. Chiropractic includes over 200 techniques used in the objective of correcting vertebral disc displacements, freeing spinal joint adhesion, inhibiting nociceptive (pain) impulses, or correcting spinal misalignments, and reducing muscles spasms and strains. Approximately 35% of the annual visits to chiropractors are for relief of acute low back pain from various causes, including accidents, sports injuries, and muscle strains. Chiropractic spinal adjustments are used to restore mobility to joints restricted by tissue injury caused by a traumatic event, such as falling, heavy lifting strain, or repetitive stress, such as sitting without proper back support, or yard work.

Chiropractic care is considered a safe, gentle and effective treatment for acute low back pain. Research has also shown chiropractic to be helpful in treating neck pain, headaches and other conditions.

Any treatment recommendations would be based on an accurate diagnosis of your back pain. Your chiropractor will conduct a thorough medical history, including ongoing medical conditions, current medications, traumatic/surgical history, and lifestyle factors. Examination will include orthopedic tests and neurological exam if possible depending on the level of pain, and also x-rays or other advanced imaging such as magnetic resonance (MRI). Most episodes of low back pain respond favourably to chiropractic care and resolve quickly.

As I mentioned earlier, this article is meant as a guide and anyone experiencing severe pain should consult with their doctor immediately for a complete and thorough assessment.

Dr. Stacey Burke graduated from Logan College of Chiropractic in 1996 with a Doctor of Chiropractic Degree. He also holds an International Chiropractic Sports Science Diploma (I.C.S.S.D.). He is the co-founder of West Coast Family Chiropractic in Hillarys, Perth Western Australia. His goal is to help people restore and maintain their health, and the health of their families and community through natural chiropractic methods, community outreach, and education.

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