You can’t see back or neck pain but it can stop you from doing even the simplest of day to day activities. If you have back pain, you are probably worried for several reasons:
- Is it serious?
- Will it get better?
- What can I do to help it get better?
- Does this mean I will have pain for life?
Let’s start with the first worry. Is it serious?
Well this is a difficult one to determine without having an osteopath check you out but 95/100 it isn’t serious but that doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly painful! The most common cause of back pain is a simple joint or ligament injury which causes the muscles in the surrounding area to go into spasm making moving around, sitting and bending over excruciatingly painful. However, although it is hard to determine exactly what is going on without a full examination if you have any of the following symptoms alongside your back pain please take yourself to your GP straight away.
- A fever of 38˚C (100.4˚F) or above
- Inability to pass urine or loss of bladder control
- Loss of bowel control
- Numbness around your genitals, buttocks or back passage
- Unexplained weight loss
- Pain began after a high impact injury or trauma, such as a car accident
- You have any previous history of cancer, TB or rheumatological conditions or your general health has deteriorated since your back pain started (especially if you have weight loss, night sweats, nausea or vomiting)
If you haven’t any of these symptoms it is likely you are in the majority and have a non-serious cause to your back pain. But this is definitely not the end of the story. So what next? Well, the quickest route to resolving your pain is to have it looked at by an osteopath so they can diagnose what is going on, refer you for more testing such as X-Rays or MRIs or simply start treating you using a range of manual therapy techniques from joint manipulation and articulation to muscle release and fascial chain stretching. Definitely get yourself checked if you have any of the following:
- Pain is more than just discomfort (5-10 – 10 being the worst!)
- Symptoms spread into your buttocks, legs or feet
- You are experiencing pins and needles or numbness
- Your leg(s) feels weak or heavy
- Your pain is constant or hard to manage with over the counter painkillers
- Your pain started with a small or moderate trauma such as picking something light off the floor, standing from a chair or driving
Before you see your osteopath (i.e. us!), however, there is plenty that you can do to help relieve the pain you are in.
Firstly, get yourself an ice pack or frozen peas (just don’t try to eat the peas afterwards!), wrap in some paper towel or tea towel and place onto the part of your back or neck that hurts. Leave it there for 5-10minutes and repeat every 20minutes. If your skin goes red you have left the pack on too long but not to worry, your body heat will bring everything back up to the right temperature. If you can avoid using heat in the first 72hours of your injury this will prevent any swelling from being exacerbated and the pain being prolonged.
The next thing to do is to keep moving! Historically you GP would advise painkillers and rest but this has since been proven to lengthen the time it takes for you to get better so get up and about and do gentle, slow, steady movement. The best example of this is just walking, cycling slowly, swimming or hugging your knees to your chest. Pelvic floor exercises can also help too.
To come and see use for an appointment, call 03 8774 9600