Acute vs. Chronic Low Back Pain

Post on how to treat different kinds of back pain. Make sure you are doing the right things to heal quickly and get back to your life.

Odds are that if you are over the age of 18 you have had at least one instance of lower back pain. I know I have.  It's not a fun experience. 

Back pain, if the symptoms are severe enough, is completely debilitating.  You feel like you can't even get out of bed fearing you might move or twist the wrong way sending shooting pain throughout your body.  There are different ways you should treat acute vs. chronic low back pain.  Here are some guidelines to follow should you be faced with back pain in the future. 

Acute low back pain is an injury that has just occured within the past 24 hours.  Causes can be as simple as fluffing a sheet or sneezing (don't laugh, I've treated people due to this).  Back pain symptoms usually include pain (big surprise there), decreased spinal motion, muscle spasm, and some loss of functional mobility. 

When you have acute low back pain, you want to ice for the first 24-72 hours.  It might not be comfortable but it is the best thing that you can do at first.  Just try to wait it out moving as much as you can comfortably.  Hopefully, the pain will subside and you will be able to get back to your normal daily tasks without needing to visit your MD or Physical Therapist.  If the pain persists longer than the 72-hour mark you can start to use heat to sooth the muscles and hopefully promote some more mobility.  If it does persist you should make an appointment to get some treatment for your condition.

Chronic low back pain is usually pain that persists longer than 30 days. (The exact distinction is a gray area.) The rules are different for low back pain that has lasted this long.  Heat can still be used to help warm up the spine and supporting muscles.  From there, you want to get moving as much as you can.  You can push through a little bit of pain as long as the pain does not spike.  Studies have shown that exercises and moving have been more helpful with chronic pain than resting and avoiding activity.  If you have chronic low back pain then you are going to have some restrictions somewhere.  This means you are going to be weak in some areas and tight/inhibited in others.  You need to consult with a Physical Therapist to make sure you are working on the right muscles.  They will assess what is weak and what movements you cannot perform.  From there you will be assigned exercises and activities that will help to correct your deficits. (You might even get a back massage while you are there. Not half bad.)  With their guidance and your hard work you will be on your way to a healthy, pain-free low back. 

If you have any questions or need treatment for your back please contact me.  If you want to get started on a simple exercise that will help increase your abdominal strength then read here.  I hope that this article provided you with some good information on how to treat back pain.  Thank you for reading.


"Live Pain Free"

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Mike Bottaro October 14, 2012 at 01:42 PM
This is a helpful post. Some people downplay back injury... until it happens to them. Thanks!
Ian Manning October 15, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Thank you for reading. I agree about back pain affecting a lot of people. Hopefully this helps them to find some relief.
Taylor Colin September 17, 2013 at 08:47 AM
Excellent info about back pain! I think physical therapy is one of the best solutions to reduce the pain and prevent the future injury.<a href="http://www.spineandsportsmed.com">back pain</a>


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