Being a chiropractor, it probably does not surprise you that we see A LOT of people with lower back pain. Here are a few things to be aware of:
Don’t assume that the pain will magically go away on its own!
Pain is your body’s warning signal. The pain has a purpose, and it is often your body’s way of slowing you down so that you do not further injure yourself. Simply taking an aspirin or other painkiller does not actually fix your problem, instead it is like unplugging the smoke alarm in your house when there is a kitchen fire and it starts ringing. You may not hear the warning any more, but the problem is still there.
As a rule, use ice and not heat.
Many people get confused about whether to use hot packs or cold packs when they first have an injury. The rule is this: if it is a muscular problem, use heat; and if it is a joint problem, use cold.
The problem though, is that almost no one is able to differentiate between whether their pain is caused by a muscle ache, or an irritated joint or spinal disc. If you apply heat to the area, it will relax your muscles; but can make any underlying inflammation much worse. If you used heat when you should have used ice, you will feel better initially because the muscles relax; but you will feel much worse the next day.
The best thing to do is to ice the area for approximately 20 minutes every 2 hours. If the area gets numb or tingly before the 20 minutes is up, stop at that point.
Watch how you sleep!
When you are in a lot of pain, it may feel nice to curl into bed and lie on your side. This can be one of the worst positions for your lower spine though, if your hips are not parallel. The best position to lie in when you are having lower back pain, is on your back with a pillow under your knees.
Do not overstretch your lower back!
Many people think that if they are having lower back pain, that the simplest solution to the problem is to stretch the area. This can be helpful if the problem is due to a muscle spasm, but if it is due to any other type of problem you risk further injuring your lower back. The most common reason that muscles spasm is to protect an injured area in you r body. Your body uses your muscles as a shield to protect the much more vulnerable spine and spinal discs.
Get checked as soon as possible!
Getting your spine checked as soon as possible by a chiropractor (preferably one who focuses on Structural BioCorrection) is crucial. The sooner the problem is addressed, the easier the problem will be to fix. Ignoring the problem until the pain goes away is not a solution, but is instead a recipe for disaster down the road.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Sean Carey