You are not alone! Almost 80% of adults have suffered it at some point. Most of the time it is short term and lasts for a few days to a few weeks.
So what should you do if you have an acute episode ? Treatments have changed drastically over the past 30 years that I have been practising as a physiotherapist- Bed rest and traction was the norm for treating low back pain in the past.
But now, keeping active is the new mantra! Treat your back like you would an acutely sprained ankle- keep moving but gingerly avoid too much of any movement that hurts.
Take painkillers like Paracetamol- they don’t speed up your recovery but combined with activity will help a return to normal movement. Over the counter Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory also helps but you must check with your pharmacist to rule out any contra-indications to taking it.
Hot or Cold – what is best ?
Some people prefer cold packs in the acute stage- never applied directly but with a wet flannel between the ice and the body – this helps in the first 2- 3 days to reduce inflammation. You can apply it for 20 minutes at a time 2 to 3 times a day. Cold packs work better if you have nerve pain or sciatica.
If you have a lot of muscle spasm then you will find that heat helps to relax your muscles and if there is underlying wear and tear of the spinal joints, heat will improve local circulation and be more effective. Moist heat works better than dry heat but heat patches can be kept on for long periods and have been found to be effective.
I’m going to do a series of posts on low back pain. Feel free to ask questions and I will try and answer them to the best of my ability