Bad back? You’re not alone. Most of us, hunched over our lap tops and driving everywhere, get it from time to time and for some of us it’s a day to day problem. The standard GP approach, use pain medication, has gone out of the window. Paracetamol doesn’t work and it’s bad for your liver.
At Dragon we treat back pain all the time, more successfully than a GP, and we’ve all had bad back pain at various times, so we know our way around it.
Keep your back warm.
As a general rule cold makes muscle tissue contract & tighten. And tight, contracted muscle tissues are one of the main features of back pain. So keep warm, especially in the area that is painful: hot baths, saunas, hot water bottles, warming liniments could potentially help. And don’t ice it. “Ice is for corpses” as the Chinese saying goes.
Keep moving (gently).
As a general rule, human bodies work better (and recover from injury better) when they are mobilised. Being sedentary is usually a bad idea. Obviously this comes with the proviso that bad movement could aggravate the situation. A good rule of thumb with stretching is to watch your breathing as you’re doing it; if you find yourself involuntarily holding your breath then what you’re doing is too extreme. Go gently.
Try and gauge what may have lead to your back pain.
Does it have its root in exhaustion? If so then rest will be an important part of the recovery process (rest doesn’t mean being too sedentary).
Is stress a significant contributor? It may be necessary to drop some of the responsibilities that you’ve been shouldering, or to lower your expectations of yourself. This is often easier said than done, but unless there is a clear mechanical cause, an episode of acute back pain is always a sign that something needs to change.
Get some treatment.
Sometimes back pain is so debilitating that you can’t really get started with the recovery process (gentle stretching etc) until something has given you a bit of leeway. It’s also good to get an informed opinion from someone with experience as to what exactly is going with your back, which might be the most suitable stretches for you, etc. And yes, acupuncture is right up there as one of the most useful methods for helping a bad back. The national institute of clinical excellence recommends that doctors provide ten sessions for patients with back pain and recommends acupuncture for neck pain.
Again, easier said than done. Acute back pain really is distressing. But as mentioned above, in some senses back pain is a warning light on the dashboard; once you understand what has lead to the pain that you’re experiencing, and how to support your body in rectifying the problem, there is the real possibility of ending up better off than you were before it happened. An experienced healthcare practitioner can really support that process.
Don’t accept it
In the longer term, it’s possible to live with a chronic bad back, hurting a bit most of the time and occasionally a lot. This is a bad idea. When my back hurt the best advice I got was not to accept it and to keep working at it till it went away. A bad back isn’t a given, ultimately you can usually get rid of a back condition through the correct exercise and postural change. Don’t stop trying until it’s gone.