At the first sign of back pain, there are a few simple things you can do to provide short term relief and give your back the best chance of healing quickly. Most of the time we do the wrong thing, which then leads to a delayed recovery and at worst a permanent injury.

The top 5 ways to deal with Acute Back Pain

1. Stay active: It may be tempting to stay in bed and do nothing but it is important to keep moving as much as you comfortably can. By doing this, you will prevent stiffness and relieve muscle weakness setting in. By staying active you will prevent fear of movement setting in. Fear of movement is one of the reasons most people fail to get better. Your physiotherapist can prescribe a gentle exercise program tailored to suit your condition. They can also gradually progress your exercises to help you return to normal function as soon as possible.

2.Relative Rest: Relative rest is the other side of the coin. You have to stay active, but you also have to reduce the load on the back. There are 168 hours in the week in which you can be loading the back. Take note of what aggravates your back and reduce the time spent in this activity. For example you might sit for 8 hours a day in an office job and sitting aggravates your back. To reduce sitting time stand up more and move around. When you get home don’t sit on the couch. Stand up or lay down. If you are an athlete or like to train in the gym reduce the intensity of your workouts. If you do outdoor training and push ups hurt your back change the exercise to something that will not aggravate you. This way you are getting relative rest but not just laying around doing nothing.

3.Use medication: Often patients that I see don’t like to take medication and will suffer with pain instead. The problem with this is that the more pain we have the more protective muscle spasm we get, which then leads to more pain. Then we move less and a vicious cycle happens that we cannot get out of. I find the combination of paracetamol and ibuprofen for several days works wonders in settling the acute pain down. If you have any medical problems consult with your local medical doctor or pharmacist.

4.Find comfortable positions: Although you should remain as active as possible during the early stages of back pain, there are times when you need to be lying or sitting down. Find positions that allow you the most comfort, especially when sleeping. Using a pillow under the knees when lying on your back and between your knees when lying on your side can offer support and relief from pain. When sitting ensure your lower back is supported. You can use a rolled up towel placed in the small arch of your back. This will help provide support and may relieve the pain.

5.Get treated early: Early intervention always works best. To make sure you recover quickest get a physiotherapy assessment and treatment to get you moving in the right direction. Have you ever wondered why top athletes get better so quickly? One of the reasons is that they get treatment from the time of the injury. They don’t delay and get treatment weeks after their injury.

Please call your Physiotherapist, Mark Collins or Paul Smith at Canton Beach Road Physiotherapy on 02 4396 5686 or visit our clinic at 20 Canton Beach Road in Toukley for more information.