Managing Acute Lower Back Pain

Below is a copy of the information sheet I give out to patients with acute lower back pain. It is especially designed for people with prolapsed disks, but the general do’s and don’ts are just as helpful for other types of lower back problems as well as musculosceletal problems in other areas of the body (e.g. neck or shoulder pain). Please note however that I give this information out after a full case history and examination, and on its own it is not a replacement for seeing someone to properly diagnose and manage the problem, to rule out non-mechanical causes for your symptoms and check for potentially underlying pathology. Plus there is the Osteopathic treatment itself of course, this is just the all important homework…

Advice For Acute Low Back Pain

Do ‘little and often’; During the day, don’t sit, stand, lie or walk too long. For example, if you are sitting at the office or in the car, take a break at least every 45-60 minutes and have a 5 minute walk.
Have regular short walks, several times a day. On a good day you might do more, and on a bad day you will do less.
Lie down every hour or so. Taking the weight off your back allows it to decompress and supportive muscles to replenish. This can also provide a nice back friendly rhythm to your day.
Just before or during these rest periods is a good time to do the ‘cold/hot’ or ‘cold’ treatments your osteopath may have suggested. As a general rule, don’t use heat on its own (it encourages the inflammation)
Listen to the pain, it is your ‘friend’ letting you know what you can and can’t get away with.
Avoid aggravating activities such as bending forward (especially if prolonged), awkward/heavy lifting, high impact sports, carrying bags on one shoulder, etc…
Be wary of taking pain killers to do activities the pain would otherwise not let you do… if you do this you may be prolonging your misery.
Be creative with what you do… By using this advice and making the necessary changes to your day to day, you often don’t have to stop what you normally do.

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