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Help, my back just went out!

I often tell my patients that if I had the same problems they have, I would likely get better faster than they would, just because I would know what to do and what not to do to assist the recovery process. When that dreaded moment comes and you feel that first twinge or shot of pain in your spine, what you do next will likely determine how bad the problem becomes and how quickly and how well you recover.

First, don't continue to try to stretch through the pain or stretch it out. Immediately find the least painful position, preferably in a 'neutral spine' posture where your head, rib cage and pelvis is in line with each other and stay there for several minutes at least. Lying down with a pillow that allows your neck and head to be in neutral position is usually best at this point. Allow the body to relax a bit if you can get relatively comfortable in a nuetral position. Possibly put some ice over the spine in the mid-line but not over the muscles for about 15 minutes.

If the pain subsides or reduces enough for you to get up and move around, do so very carefully, especially at first. To get up from a lying down position, roll to one side while bracing your stomach, back and buttocks muscles and roll like a log without twisting. Scoot to the edge of the surface you are on while maintaining neutral position so you can then carefully lower your legs over the edge toward the floor while keeping the bent. Now push up with your hand and elbow and let the weight of your legs assist in pulling you upright while you hold your muscles of your stomach, back and buttocks tight.

Move around in the fully upright position and try not to allow your head, rib cage and pelvis to get out of neutral position as you move about. If the pain persists, call in for an appointment right away, because the sooner we begin to treat you for this aggravation of your spine, the easier it is to get through it. A very small percentage of these types of flare ups are muscle pains, even though the pain might be off to the side of the spine or in your hip or shoulder. The joints of the spine are by far the greatest cause of this type of condition.

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