Updated: Apr 6, 2020
A patient came into the clinic last week bent over with pain and wanted to know if there was something, we could do to help him. Here's what he told us had been going on the last few weeks. “I’ve had this back pain for a few weeks now, I’m not sure what I’ve done to it but I’ve tried taking painkillers and that didn’t help. I was trying to rest it so that it wouldn’t hurt, but whenever I stood up or sat for long periods of time, it hurt again so I had to lay down. Now I’m wearing kinesio tape to see if that helps, but I can still feel the pain when I sit or stand up. Is there anything else I can do to get rid of the pain?”
I know how frustrating it can be when you’re not sure what you’ve done to hurt your back, and even more frustrating when everything you’re trying to do to get rid of the pain - doesn’t do a thing to make it feel any better. Everyone always thinks and hopes that there will be a “quick fix” to their problem. And because we see people confused, fed-up and even skeptical about what can be done to help with their back pain, I wanted to address this idea of “quick fixes” for your back - or for any joint problem, whether it’s your knees, shoulder, neck wherever, and tell you why they’re no good. With that said, here’s the 3 most common “quick fixes” that people THINK ease their back pain, but that actually do the opposite:
1. Reaching for The Painkillers - When you’re in pain, let’s face it, one of the easiest things to do is reach for the painkillers to “kill” the pain, quick. It’s also unfortunately the first option that your doctor will give you to help your knee pain. But the thing is painkillers won’t get to the root cause of your problem and actually do anything to fix it - they just mask the pain instead, which doesn’t help anyone. And at the end of the day, that pain will still be there when the painkillers wear off. So, it’s better to do something to fix your pain long-term instead.
2. Resting - When pain strikes, it’s very tempting to do nothing but rest "in case the pain gets worse”, which means many people end up laying on the couch watching their favorite TV shows... But when it comes to back pain, ‘rest’ actually means to not do ‘too much’. If you rest too much (A.K.A not move much at all), your joints and muscles will become stiff and tight, which can make your back feel even more achy when you try to move them. To actually help your back, you could go swimming, go for a light walk, yoga or go for a cycle- basically any low-impact exercise will help keep you moving and not place any added pressure on your back.
3. Icing Your Back Only – It is tempting to ONLY ice your back to relieve your pain. This is a good idea initially for pain relief, reduce any swelling, and decrease inflammation. After 48-72 hours you should turn your attention to heat to loosen this tight and “achy” muscles. Adding heat to your healing process will allow for new blood flow to area to speed your recovery process. It will also allow for greater elasticity of the tissue making stretching easier and less discomforting. So instead of heading to ice box for more of the cold stuff treat your body and grab the heating pad; but after 10-15 minutes of heating it is important for you to get up and move! Movement is what will help your back heal. “Motion is Lotion” and Movement is Medicine”.
So there you have it, 3 "quick fixes" that people think ease their back pain, but that do the opposite. Painkillers, rest, and icing only. When it comes to your joints, these quick fixes are not the way forward to fix your problem long-term.