This week saw me flat on my back on a field feeling rather blissful but also wondering how on earth I was going to get up again!
Acute back pain is no laughing matter. It can be extremely debilitating and quite scary especially if you haven’t experienced it before. It can happen for a number of reasons, sometimes obvious sometimes it seems to come for no apparent reason. It can also happen for the stupidest of reasons - sneezing, picking up a sock demonstrating stretches! Most of us have experienced it but what should we do when it happens?
1. Try not to panic - panicking will lead to more tension and stress on the body. Just keep still, breathe and try and relax as much as possible without causing yourself too much pain. Also get yourself to a place of safety - for me yesterday this was slowly commando rolling under the fence away from my horse’s feet!
2. Get moving as much as you can - Movement is Medicine. It lubricates joints, exercises muscles and most importantly gets the blood pumping. This is key for promoting healing. Don’t go mad. Move little and often, avoid situations that may provoke sharp, jerky movements.
When resting get yourself as comfortable as possible. Get creative with pillows - in the small of your back when sitting, under your knees when lying on your back or between the knees when on your side.
3. Hot or Cold - Now this is a controversial topic as there are arguments for using both but in these excruciating acute stages I recommend using which ever one gives you the most relief - I’m a heat person even in the hottest of weathers.
4. Pain medication - lots of us shy away from pills, not wanting to admit defeat and take them. If you cant move at all you need to take the pain killers to get you going. Over the counter paracetamol and ibuprofen are a good start - always check with your GP if you are unsure if you can take them and follow the guidelines on the packet.
5. Book an Appointment! I can help you get going again. Initially I will screen you to make sure it is safe to treat you at that time. Next we work on symptom relief and once we have some movement we can use this to our advantage with remedial exercise!
A few things to watch out for - sometimes acute pain can be caused by something a little more complicated which needs medical attention. Keep an eye out for the following, and seek emergency medical treatment straight away:
Pain and numbness that leads you to stumble or to have difficulty getting up.
Looks of altered sensation in the legs, feet, inner thighs or saddle area that is severe or gets worse and worse.
Problems controlling bowel or bladder - either difficulty emptying (retention) or difficulty stopping it (incontinence).