What To Do When Your Back Goes Out

Tamara Klisaric @ 2020-11-26 23:36:11 -0500

You’re  smart.  You fulfill your obligations; you mind your own business and generally do the right thing in whatever enterprise engages you at the moment. You take care of yourself, exercise in moderation, eat right, and enjoy good health and a relatively high fitness level and all of the benefits that usually flow from your admirable lifestyle.  Unfortunately freedom from back pain is not necessarily one of those benefits.You might be one of the lucky ones and escape this particular torment through yourlifetime.  If you do, you will be in an elite minority.  Congratulations, and lucky you.

For most of the rest of us, however, we would do well to have some kind of a game plan to call into play when it feels like we have been hit in the back with a jackhammer.  Knowing what to do when that happens or feels like it is about to happen depends largely on the nature and level of your pain, its location and its root cause.

If you are relatively young, take heart; eventually you should become an expert on your symptoms and will learn to identify and avoid the factors that bring on a back pain episode and what works best to prevent and ease your own, special travail.  In the meantime, here are some suggestions to try out the next time the hammer strikes.

Rest:  For many habitual athletes, the word is anathema, but when your back is in unremitting spasm, you have little choice.  At the same time you need not baby yourself too much or too long and should become as active and as soon as your pain level will allow.  The days of long term bed rest for garden variety back pain are pretty much over since it was found that extended inactivity actually lengthens the recovery period.                        

  • Ice:  As for other muscle injuries, cold therapy can work wonders.  You can use packaged chemical coolants, gels that stay mushy even when frozen or old fashioned ice packs. Avoid frostbite with a towel between your skin and the pack, but make sure you cool the tissues deep enough to reach the core of the spasm.  In the early, acute stages, you can effectively ice up to three or more times a day.  Remember to keep the rest of your body comfortably warm while you are icing, especially in colder weather..
  • Drugs: You may get your physician to prescribe a muscle relaxant or a heavy duty pain-killer.  Such pills can get you through the worst of it.  You might also try Ibuprofen,

a generic, over-the-counter anti inflammatory and pain medication. Although with Ibuprofen, you may need to take it for several days or even a couple of weeks to sustain a therapeutic blood level to achieve the anti inflammatory effect, beware of the risks that accompany long term dependency. When in doubt, check with your physician.

  • Massage: If you are fortunate enough to have access to a skilled, strong massage or other hands-on therapist who can and will apply deep muscle compression, go for it as soon and as often as you can.  There are a variety of theories underlying the various techniques used to release trigger points, relax taut muscles, improve range of motion and mitigate muscle pain; you may find that with experience you will prefer one method over another.  In the end it is the therapist who leaves you feeling more flexible, more relaxed, and in less pain who will likely give you the most satisfaction.
  • Professional Care: If your pain leaves you unable to move, you may have no choice but to seek the care of a physician.  Your family doctor may be your first stop unless you have access to a physician who specializes in physical medicine, pain management, sports injury rehabilitation, chiropractic, orthopedic, physical or occupational therapy.

There are excellent practitioners in all of these specialties and more. Selecting the professional who offers the best match for you requires that you do your homework,most effectively before you are in a painful crisis. 

  • Exercise: Once you are out of the woods, and can move around without going into spasm, you can start some benign strengthening and stretching exercises.  Abdominal curls done flat on your back with knees bent can be started early on and will produce the best payoff.  You can take exercise and stretching classes at you local gym or refer to self care information at the http://www.pressurepositive.com/ website described below.
  • Self Care: As important as outside sources of help can be to relieve your aching back, do explore all the possibilities available to you to help yourself. In addition to appropriate medical care, rest, ice, stretching, exercise, and other lifestyle choices, there are tools that can help you manage your back pain issues by allowing you to apply deep, static, soft tissue compression that will quell muscle spasms and chronic pain, easing tension in the involved muscles sufficiently enough to allow deliberate, targeted stretching.  Over time such a regular regimen, as a component in a balanced self care program, will not only help you heal but will be effective in preventing future recurrences.  In the interests of full disclosure, my own enterprise, The Pressure Positive Company specializes in the design and manufacture of such self care products that are displayed along with a wealth of detailed information on self care at our corporate website at: http://www.pressurepositive.com/ .
  • Learn:  In the end the more you know about yourself, what works and what doesn’t, how to recognize the warning signs when something is about to go wrong and what you need to do to stay upright and well over time is your best, most dependable defense.


          Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.


          The Pressure Positive Company


Copyright © 2008 Bun Gladieux Jr.


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash