What can I do when I first injure my back?
Ice and Ibuprofen - for pain less than 1 week old
- Ice for 15 minutes every 2 hours
- Ibuprofen (800mg) 3x/day (before bed, first thing in the morning, & middle of the day
- Rest and avoidance of strenuous or other aggravating activities.
- Rest means periodically lying on your back with knees up and pillows under your neck and thighs for up to 15 minutes.
- Frequent changes in position (every 15-20 minutes)
- Keep moving as much as possible between frequent periods of rest when symptoms are moderate or worse.
Should I use heat or ice?
- Ice should be used after any significant aggravation or re-injury.
- Ice should be used for moderate to severe pain.
- Heat should be used for mild to moderate pain.
- Heat should also be used for any chronic pain.
Are any medications helpful?
- NSAIDS (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like Ibuprophen [Advil, Motrin]), Naproxen (Aleve) and Aspirin) are very helpful immediately after an onset of pain, or for up to 7 days after.
- Interestingly enough, muscle relaxants are mainly useful for getting to relax at night when in pain in order to allow you to sleep. They are not very helpful for muscle spasms.
- Painkillers (Tylenol, Tramadol, Codeine) could be used early if a presciption dosage of NSAIDS doesn't control the pain enough.
- Steroid injections are effective for persistent inflammation or pain not responding to traditional therapy or the medications above.
Is anything else helpful?
- BIOFREEZE - Topical analgesic for pain reduction
Use a brace (neck or back) when severe (within the first week.)
- After the first week, use only temporarily when you know you are going to do something strenuous or for a prolonged period.
- Hot showers, moist heat, and hot tubs are helpful for chronic pain or for pain that is mild to moderate.
Should I expect it to hurt after a treatment or exam?
Exams are meant to provoke pain in order to figure out what was injured, so you should expect some aggravation of your injury which should be easily controlled by ice, Ibuprofen, and relative rest. This is because I am working on an area that is already inflamed. Pressure on an inflamed area, like pressure on a bruise, will tend to cause some increased inflammation and sensitivity afterwards. This is normal and feels similar to the soreness after working out for the first time in a while.