What causes back pain and stiffness?
Back pain and stiffness can be caused by all sorts of different problems. Most frequently, we see back pain caused by inflammation either after a trauma such as slipping and hitting your back or landing awkwardly or as the result of poor posture or movement patterns causing long term wear and tear on either joints or muscles leading ultimately to enough damage to cause an inflammatory response.
What can I do about my back pain and stiffness?
You might find that instinctively you want to avoid any movement and rest your back. In some cases, like a severe trauma, this can be a good idea. But most of the time your first aid advice is to keep moving. This is because your back pain is likely to be due to some damage and now your body is rushing to fix it with an inflammatory response. This is a good thing! Inflammation is a healing process, vital to get you back to normal. There is a down side though, inflammation fills up our tissues and increases pressure, activating more pain receptors. By staying mobile, we do several things. We keep fluids moving through our system, reducing the pressure that activates pain receptors. We stimulate damaged tissues, increasing pain perhaps but reminding our body what needs fixing. We also teach ourselves that moving isn't a bad thing and our nervous system will adjust to this resulting in less pain fibre activation.
Should I use heat or ice?
Current thinking is if you can cope with the pain and keep mobile it's best to leave heat or ice. Heat might increase the inflammatory response leading to more pain, or it might relax your muscles leading to less back pain. Ice might reduce the inflammation, lowering pressure and reducing pain, but it may also slow down your recovery.
If you do decide to use one or the other, try to limit it's use to just 10 minutes and then repeat later on, this way you get some benefit whilst reducing the down side.
What can we do for you?
If your back pain or stiffness persists for more than a day or two and doesn't show any signs of reducing, or you would like to see if the process can be sped up, it is best to get in touch with a qualified health professional. We start by identifying exactly what is causing your back pain or stiffness and will then discuss what we can do. Primarily we will use techniques designed to reduce muscle tension and improve movement within your spinal joints.
Typically, we test before treatment and re-test afterwards and look for an improvement in comfort and movement. If you would like to see how we can help, get in touch to see when our next available appointment is.