Acute Back Pain
When it comes to acute injuries especially something that happens with your lower back, it is important to keep MOVING. Back pain is not always specific and is based on a multitude of factors. Unless we had a traumatic incident such as falling, had a maximum lifting capacity injury, car accident, etc., the most common result is that we did not do anything damaging or that would cause any concern anatomically or neurologically.
Acute low back pain is common from people who recurrently “throw their back out” or “tweak their back”. It is more likely to get better on its own with movement, reassurance if we do not have any numbness or tingling and the pain is centralized to a certain area in your low back. Sometimes an exact diagnosis is not necessary and can even be misleading due to a poor association between imaging results and back pain.
The worst thing that we can do is start to demonize motions or postures that reproduce our pain. Those are the motions and postures we want to start to gradually work back into! If we stop doing something because it is painful, it will be that much harder to regain. It is also psychologically producing less confidence in our low back. Pain goes deeper and is more complex than that. Don’t fall into the low back pain cycle. Think of pain as just sensitivities and remain optimistic and above all, stay active! Core exercise and specific low back exercises are great and can be helpful. However, it can be just as helpful to increase your activity and general exercise levels.
Red Flags to Go see a Medical Professional:
- Unchanged back pain with rest or activity, pain that has no patterns
- Constant Numbness and tingling traveling into your legs/extremities that is unchanged by positions
- Take your breath away type of pain with palpation of a bony area
- Loss/Change in Bladder/Bowel Function
If none of these red flags are present, it is our best advice to go see a physical therapist. a physical therapist can coach you back on your way to recovery as quickly as possible. At Quincy Physical Therapy, we use a manual and exercise based plan to restore confidence in moving and using your back to regain motion and strength that you have lost and MOST importantly significantly reduce the risk of this becoming a chronic or recurrent problem.
Physical therapy should empower you and teach you how to handle these problems in the future when they arise. IT is unrealistic to think we will ever be pain free. Our goal should be having the ability to manage our pain better and reduce the frequency and intensity of flare ups. Confidence and optimism is crucial in your long term success, especially in the early stages of having acute low back pain.
What if therapy doesn’t work?
If therapy is not indicated due to a red flag or unchanging symptoms/mobility within four weeks, we recommend seeing a spine MD or your PCP. We work closely with the Quincy Spine Center where they can provide imaging and other conservative management such as a cortisone shot to avoid surgery if it is possible to do so.
If you would like to learn more before coming into Quincy Physical Therapy, give us a call at 617-481-2000 and ask to speak to a therapist regarding your symptoms or condition. You can also schedule a discovery session to learn more in person as well without committing to starting therapy.