Back pain can be just uncomfortable or absolutely agonising. When you get it, worrying about how to deal with it and fear of making it worse can be almost as difficult as dealing with the pain.
So when should you take action and what can you do?
1. Back Pain Just Started
First things first, don’t worry! You almost certainly will be fine within the next week or two. Stay as active as you can, but don’t overdo it. Take some anti-inflammatories and painkillers to help you. Use ice (not heat as inflammation makes the joint swell) and get the rest if you can; everything is worse when you’re tired.
2. Two Weeks of Back Pain
Maybe have a word with an acupuncturist or deep tissue massage therapist if you’re still in pain now. You’re probably stuck in a muscle spasm/joint injury cycle. It’s the body’s way of protecting you but it can mean that trouble goes on for a bit longer than necessary.
It also usually means there is possibly some old injury or scar tissue that is perpetuating the issue for longer than normal.
3. Six Weeks of Back Pain
If it’s getting better, but slowly: don’t worry! You most likely did some damage to a ligament or a tendon and they take longer to heal and can be very painful. Remain active, try to ignore it, unless you have pain travelling down your leg or arms, experience numbness or tingling anywhere, in which case you need to get an expert opinion.
If it’s getting worse you should speak to a chartered physiotherapist or your GP and possibly look into some tests. If you feel ill or feverish, or are experiencing issues with your bowel or bladder: go to your GP immediately, if you can’t get in: go to A&E. Yes, really.
4. Six Months of Back Pain
If it’s slowly getting better, and you are experiencing the occasional relapses (week by week things are getting better) then don’t worry! You probably damaged a disc. Contrary to popular myth, they don’t always need surgery, in fact research shows they usually don’t. They are usually slow to heal because they don’t have the best blood-supply.
Our advice? Get a specialist opinion, because there may be things you can do to accelerate matters and a healthy life-style, strong back and remaining active are some key ingredients!
If this isn’t your first rodeo with disc issues or things are not getting any better: it’s time to speak to the professionals.
Disc problems, as a rule, don’t just occur, and whilst you don’t need to worry about surgery, it is likely that there are contributing factors if they keep happening.
If you developed symptoms down your leg or arm, pain below the knee or into the hand: don’t wait. Just don’t. The longer a nerve is compressed, the longer it will take for the nerve to recover and that is the most painful bit of these.
Non-surgical treatment is very effective and usually resolves most symptoms within 6 to 8 weeks.
*** The above is general guidance and of course cannot replace the professional opinion or advice of a doctor or expert following a consultation and examination.
If you are really concerned about your symptoms, if they have having a significant effect on your life, or you have additional symptoms you should always consult a suitably-qualified health professional ***