Has your lower back been sore recently? If it has, and the pain has lasted for less than 12 weeks, you may be suffering from acute lower back pain. If you haven’t experienced it yet, keep reading anyway because around 70% of Australians encounter acute lower back pain at some point in their life. You could soon too!
There are many causes for acute lower back pain. Poor posture is a major one as it can cause muscles to shift into positions that they’re not meant to be in, throwing your body out of balance. Existing medical conditions such as joint inflammation can also be a contributor to back problems.
Injury generally occurs due to excessive loads. It could happen when you’re trying a new sport, lifting a heavy weight, bending incorrectly, getting hit by something, or a variety of these things slowly building up stress in your lower back.
Although serious conditions are rare, without the assistance of a qualified Physiotherapist such as Bend + Mend your injury can last much longer than necessary. In fact, if some of the smaller back muscles are damaged they may not recover at all without the correct treatment. Physiotherapists are specialists in musculoskeletal assessment, so they can give you a quality diagnosis and the appropriate treatment options. Here are some of the treatment methods that your Physiotherapist may prescribe:
- Light exercise (potentially hydrotherapy)
- Postural change
- Soft tissue or joint mobilisation
- Acupuncture or dry needling
Pain killers are also often prescribed as part of the treatment for acute lower back pain. The earlier that treatment has begun, the shorter your recovery time will be, so don’t hesitate in seeing your Physio.
What you can do
Until your appointment time arrives you can follow some simple steps to reduce pain and risk of further injury. Follow these 3 steps until you see your local Physiotherapist:
Keep active: Although the initial urge will be to lie down and quit moving altogether, this may stiffen up your muscles so much that you’re unable to move when you need to. Continuing very light movement will lessen the amount of muscle spasms that may occur and increase your chances of being able to move later.
Apply heat: Using a heat bag or hot water bottle on the injured area will keep blood flowing and reduce pain and discomfort. Apply heat regularly for the first 48 hours of injury for the most effect, but be careful not to burn yourself.
Get comfortable: Although you should be keeping active post-injury, there will come a time that you need to rest or sit down. It’s important that when you’re sitting, your back is supported, so try using a rolled-up towel to follow the small curve in your lower back. Lying down can also be quite painful and uncomfortable, so try putting a pillow between your knees when lying on your side. If you’re lying on your back, elevating your knees with a pillow or rolled-up towel might provide some relief.
You may only need a few sessions with your Physiotherapist to be well on your way to recovery. You can expect your Physiotherapy appointments to provide education about your diagnosis, advice on how to manage your injury, and in-clinic treatment.
Don’t forget that recovery time lengthens the more that seeing a Physiotherapist is delayed, so book your appointment straight after injury! Acute lower back pain prevents far too many activities to be taken lightly, so make a fast recovery your priority.