Experiencing a sudden episode of lower back pain is alarming. It is incredibly frustrating, painful obviously, and also can be very scary. If you find yourself in this situation this is what I would advise:
- Try not to panic, take deep breaths.
- Assess your symptoms. Most episodes of lower back pain give you a pain in the lower back (obviously, but bizarrely not always) and sometimes pain or other symptoms such as tingling, pins and needles or numbness into the legs. This is a sign of a nerve being trapped or irritated in the lower back and can be an expected consequence of a lower back pain episode.
- If you were to experience changes in your bowel or bladder habit, and/or numbness around your bottom. Perhaps you would not be able to feel yourself wiping your bottom after going to the toilet. These symptoms are reasons to seek extra help from your GP or the hospital. This can be a sign of the nerves, supplying your bowel and bladder, being compromised and requires urgent attention.
- Number 3 is rare. Most lower back pain issues can be managed conservatively. For this you need to:
- Try and stay gently mobile. This can be so challenging when you’re in this situation. Try and get up regularly. Maybe every 30-60 minutes to move around gently. Your back may let you know when it needs to be moved.
- You could take pain medication or anti-inflammatories in the short term. Please ensure they are appropriate for you alongside any other health complaints or medications that you take. These can calm down the initial reaction and also allow more freedom of movement moving you out of the episode more readily.
- Applying heat or ice packs (wrapping whatever you use) and placing on the lower back for just 10 minutes at a time. Doing this as much as once an hour can help improve comfort.
It can take a little time to settle. The recovery time from one type of injury to another will vary. Sometimes extra help is needed, contacting myself, other manual therapist or your GP might be necessary for further guidance and treatment.
If you’re ready, read on for a slightly more light-hearted view of lower back pain.
I have experienced lower back pain myself and I know that it really isn’t fun. But there are common pitfalls that occur with a back pain flare-up, and sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and smile to yourself.
- You will drop everything onto the floor. Maybe you just notice it more, but I’m sure this happens more often at this time?! Try and bend from your knees to lower yourself down, and try and be face-on to the object you’re picking up to avoid twisting at the same time.
- You may get stuck on the toilet! Don’t be alarmed, take deep breaths, place your hands onto your thighs and support yourself as you steadily stand up.
- You might struggle to wipe your bottom! Sorry if this is crude, but it is a fact and a common scenario when lower backs are quite painful.
- Everything you want at the supermarket will be on the lowest shelf. See advice in the first point, or ask for help. Shopping trolleys are even harder to control when your back hurts too. Try online shopping to support you for a while.
- You will feel every bump and every turn in the road. For sure you’ll be onto the council about potholes after an episode of lower back pain.
Knowing what you might expect could offer some reassurance. For the majority of cases staying gently and regularly mobile is very important. Also be reassured, that most back pain is benign in nature and relatively short-lived. Although different injures follow different time spans.
If you are, or know anyone else who is struggling. Please feel welcome to call for advice – 01245 280636.