Back ache is a complicated issue because it is caused by so many different problems. Chiropractors are well placed to help you manage this problem because we see it so often, in fact, back pain is probably the problem we see most in our clinic.
Below, we will discuss:
- What is causing my back pain
- What you should do about your back pain
- Should I use heat or ice or painkillers for my back pain
- What chiropractors can do for your back pain
In pain and need help?
What is causing my back pain?
As we said, back pain can be caused by a lot of different problems. When we talk about back pain, we are refering to pain above, between or below your shoulders blades. In our experience, the most common cause by far is poor posture. Over time, a sustained posture with rounded shoulders, or sitting in a twisted position takes its toll on your joints and muscles. Eventually your body will become irritated and achey, or a particular movement will cause small microtears and sudden, sharp pain.
Other causes may be muscular strains, trauma caused by sports or a fall or you can even "slip" or herniate a spinal disc in this area. There are many other causes, less common, but this is why it is important to seek professional help when you are not sure what to do.
What you should do about your back pain
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 minor damage but now your body is rushing to fix it with an inflammatory response and guarding the area with tight muscles. 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. Guarding muscles also activate 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.
So, gentle, regular movement and some light stretching is a great place to start.
Should I use heat or ice or painkillers for my back pain?
Maybe. We all have a different tolerance for pain. But remember, the most important thing most of the time, is to stay gently mobile.
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 or tighten up muscles. It's best to be guided by what feels good. If either feel soothing and comforting, it's probably going to help you keep moving more - which is the most important thing.
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. Also, avoid direct skin contact, apply the heat/ice through a towel or through clothing.
Regarding painkillers, it's always best to follow your GP or pharmacist's advice. Over the counter painkillers like ibuprofen or paracetamol may be helpful in keeping you mobile, just follow the advice on the packet.
What chiropractors can do for your back pain
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, like a chiropractor. We start by identifying exactly what is causing your back pain 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, such as massage or spinal manipulation.
Typically, we test before treatment and re-test afterwards and expect an immediate 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.