Oh My Aching Back! Some helpful tips until you see your doctorhoward.spaeth
It’s happened to all of us at one time or another: one minute you’re fine and the next, you lift something, turn around quickly, or maybe just cough too hard, and you can hardly move without feeling excruciating pain.
Back Strains – we can’t predict them, and we can’t always prevent them, but at least there are some steps you can take to help ease your discomfort until you get to the doctor.
While lower back pain is common, the symptoms and severity for each patient can be vary greatly. A few simple steps will offer temporary relief until you are able to get to your Pain Management physician’s office.
Rest. Give your body – and back – a break! Take a couple of days to rest, giving the injured tissue and nerve roots time to begin to heal. However, more than just a few days may have an adverse effect – resting too long can cause your muscles to become weak and not give proper support to the spine. Also, patients who don’t exercise regularly are more likely to experience prolonged or recurring back pain. Some rest is good; too much rest is not.
Heat/Ice Packs. This can make a big difference in the severity of your discomfort. Ice helps relieve pain by reducing the inflammation, while heat tends to be more soothing to the surrounding area. A good rule of thumb is to alternate cold with warm every ten to twenty minutes. In some cases, the (temporary) relief is immediate.
Medications: There are many over-the-counter medications to temporarily reduce the painful symptoms of a lower back strain. Oral medications may reduce inflammation – acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as will some of the topical pain creams which can be applied to the skin and are intended to reduce localized pain. However, careful attention is a critical component to recovery, which is why it is so important to see a pain management professional. Sometimes pain can lead to depression, difficulty sleeping and restriction of exercise – all of which can exacerbate and actually prolong the condition. A pain doctor will work with you to monitor your psychological outlook, improve your physical condition, and work with you to develop a program to help reduce or eliminate pain and reduce the risk of a recurrence.
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