Last month I talked about the difference between chronic and acute back pain and promised
you some tips and advice for preventing an acute back injury developing into something
chronic and ongoing.
However, before I start, if you are struggling with a back injury and are in any doubt as to
how severe your injury is or what you should do about it, then you should contact us
immediately. Whatever type of back pain it is, we’ll be able to give you important advice, as
well as a diagnosis and treatment, to help your recovery and we can re-direct you to
appropriate professionals if necessary.
Ice and heat packs.
So you’ve hurt your back and you’re desperate to ease the pain and not do anything to make
it worse. However, although a hot pack or hot water bottle might be tempting in the first few
hours to a day after injury, there’s more benefit to be had from judicious use of an ice pack at
this stage. It is however important to remember that the pain is part of the body’s
inflammatory response to the injury and part of the repair process, so there’s a balance to
strike between numbing the pain with ice and not damping down the inflammatory response
too much. To strike the right balance, I would advise three 10 minute applications of an ice
pack (covered by a thin layer, not on to bare to the skin) alternated with ten minute breaks in-
After the first 24 hours, heat can help to encourage blood supply to the damaged area which
should help the repair process as well as providing a measure of comfort. And sometimes, it
may help to alternate heat with ice at this stage i.e. ten minutes of each alternated and applied
The use of pain killers to help back pain is regularly in the news with recent research
throwing doubt on the use of Paracetamol. This is a complex area which is beyond the scope
of this blog but my advice would be, if you feel you need pain relief to keep you active and
moving about, then there is a role for pain killers such as Paracetamol and anti-
inflammatories such as Ibuprofen. Use of these should be taken with due care and if you are
unsure or if you are taking other medication, then you should always talk to your chemist or
Thankfully, long gone are the days when people were advised to go home and lie on a stiff
board until their back felt better and research and experience now show that keeping active is
the best way to encourage a speedy recovery. Even if you’re immobilised, some simple
stretches and moves will help. And as things ease, activities such as walking and swimming
will encourage a return to normal movement without pain. Give us a call and we can advise
you on some simple movements if you’re not sure about how or when to start.
Prevention is better than cure.
Once you’re back to normal it’s really important to take a moment to think about the longer
term. Consider what caused the injury and your lifestyle. Long hours sat at your desk, lack of
regular exercise or doing something suddenly without warming up can all contribute to
injuries. Luckily it doesn’t take too much to get into better shape and minimise the risk of re-
occurrence. If you don’t already, think about taking up an activity or sport you enjoy or call
us for some advice.
Of course in this blog we can only give general guidelines. But advice and information is
a fundamental part of our treatments at MSO, so why not call us and make an
appointment. Or better still take advantage of our free 15 minute consultation. You’ve
really got nothing to lose but the pain.