Understanding Back Pain and possible treatments
Most people experience some form of back pain during the course of their lives. This can be caused by either trauma (injury), or by over- and miss use of muscles. Examples of these are falling and landing badly, car accidents or lifting objects the incorrect way. While malalignment in the back muscles can also result in injuries.
Thus, the type and severity of your back ailment will determine how your back should be treated.
Possible treatments for back pain
Typical questions for treatment include the following:
- Do I use ice or heat?
- Can I do exercises, and if so, what exercises?
- Can I take pain killers? Is it safe to take them?
Ice or Heat
When you have an injury through falling or twisting your back in an incorrect way and pain comes on instantly, it is advised to use ice. The ice should only be used for the first 48 hours. This will aid in decreasing the pain, swelling and inflammation. While experiencing stiff or aching muscles is usually as a result of an injury that has not been rehabilitated, or alternatively, from overuse of muscles. In this case heat should be applied. The heat helps to ease off the muscle tightness.
When your body is already cold, it would not be advised to use ice to treat the injury and the same goes for applying heat when you are already warm. Studies have shown that wet heats are considered to be a better form of heat source. This would take the form of hot baths, showers or heatable bean bags.
Exercises for Back Pain
Aqua-Therapy for Back Pain
To decrease back pain in the long run, and to decrease the chances of the pain reappearing, stretches and strengthening exercises are recommended. These exercises can be done on land, or in water. In the case of aqua therapy, the water will be heated to soothe the stiffness and aches in the back. In this form of exercise all external pressures are removed and you can move freely with a decreased chance of re-injuring. It is usually performed with a specialist who will assist you with performing the correct beneficial exercises. One appropriate form of aqua therapy is called Watsu and is a passive stretching and massaging technique to decrease pain and stiffness and aid in relaxation.
Land Based Exercise for Back Pain
Basic land exercises can be done on your own, given that the pain does not increase when doing these exercises. Always consult a professional to ensure you are using correct movements prior to attempting to exercise on your own. Listed below are a few exercises that can be done on your own.
This stretch is done lying on your back. Take the left knee and twist it over your body and try to touch your knee to the ground while keeping the left shoulder on the ground. Hold the stretch for thirty seconds and repeat on the other side.
Lie on your back and pull both your knees to your chest. Hug your knees with your arms. Hold the stretch for thirty seconds.
Lie on your back. Lift one leg towards your chest (with the knee somewhat bent) and then try to straighten out your lower leg. You should feel the stretch at the back of your upper leg and not in your calf. Hold the stretch for thirty seconds.
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Start from a neutral position. Tilt your pelvis forwards, hollowing your back out. Thereafter move back to neutral and then into a posterior tilt by tucking your bum in.
Lie on your back with a ball placed under your knees. Keep your tummy muscles tight and slowly roll your legs from one side to the other.
Pain killers for back pain
As biokineticists we are not allowed to prescribe or recommend any medication. If you want to take medication for back pain the best would be to speak to your doctor or pharmacist. With that said, often your doctor or pharmacist would recommend taking Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Schedule 1 NSAIDS can be bought over the counter at a pharmacy but again make sure you ask the pharmacist for assistance to get the right medication if you do not consult your doctor first. Always follow their instructions on how to take these medications.
Remember to take the medication with water and after having a meal (unless specified otherwise) to ensure that there’s no damage to the stomach. It is also not recommended to take these medications for longer than 10 days, again to prevent any damage to your stomach. It’s important to bear in mind that some pain killers and NSAIDS can be addictive and are only a short-term solution to the back pain.
When taking pain killers or NSAIDS for back pain you will only be treating the symptoms and not the cause. The only real solution is to determine what is causing the back pain and then to treat the cause, rather than simply covering up the symptoms.
Back pain affects a large proportion of the population and can occur as a result of various factors. It is advised to consult your doctor, physiotherapist or biokineticist regarding the best way forward and what treatment would be recommended for your specific problem. This, possibly combined with medication, can greatly assist both in pain relief and improvement of back function and mobility.