The majority of people that come for care in my chiropractic office are coming in because of lower back pain. We see do see other complaints, but chiropractors are known for helping low back pain and that’s what we see the most of. Most of the people who come in with lower back pain often say “I’ve tweaked my back” or “I wasn’t really doing anything physical but now I’ve got a tweaked back”.
I would like to give you a couple of tips that we use to help people to get over the most painful initial stage of lower back pain. Lower back pain can be quite debilitating or it can be a minor nuisance, either way it affects your life and you want relief as quick as possible. People hurt themselves many different ways and they can hurt many different things, no two injuries are alike and no two people heal at the same rate, however these tips will help and may provide relief, even if it’s only a little.
Let’s clarify this “tweaked back” thing…
I’m going to approach this from a “shouldn’t have done that,” “I think I tweaked my back” or the “I worked out too hard and hurt my lower back” standpoint. I’m not talking about “serious broken bones”, “ruptured discs” and “can’t walk” type of lower back pain. Ok, here’s my disclaimer, if you are in excruciating pain no matter what you do (sit, stand, walk, lay down etc..), if you have pain traveling down your leg(s), if you can’t walk, if you can’t go to the bathroom, this article isn’t for you. You don’t have a “tweaked back”, you need to get help now and of course, my advice is to see a Chiropractor first. If you feel like you just “tweaked” it, pulled “something” or the pain and tightness is slowly getting worse, these tips are for you. Finally, if you try these tips and the pain gets worse or doesn’t improve in a day or so, please see a Chiropractor for further evaluation.
What did you do?
What you did to your lower back is really hard to say, it could be a number of different things, but one thing for sure, I’m 99% sure you have a lot of inflammation going on in your lower back because of whatever you did. The vast majority of lower back pain is due to a sprain or strain “tweaked back”, not broken bones. The good part is that you will heal and you won’t need surgery. Most of these are caused from subluxations, muscle weakness, and repetitive movements/ overuse injuries and micro-trauma. If any of these sound like what you are experiencing, please read on. These tips will save you a lot of time and money. We have had countless numbers of people who did the opposite of my first tip and heated their lower back injuries, and made it worse.
Inflammation, enemy number 1 for a “tweaked back” and Tip # 1
When you injure yourself, you cause inflammation; it’s the body’s natural response to an injury. However, sometimes the effects of inflammation causes more pain and discomfort than it seems to help. So tip #1 is use ICE, don’t use heat. I know there is a lot of confusion out there about this and it may leaving you wondering which one you should use. To answer this question, use tip #1, ice it and don’t heat it. Heat will cause more swelling, making your injury look like you’ve done some serious damage and can give the appearance of a damaged disc or that it is herniated and putting some major stress on your nerve. Inflammation can mimic nerve pressure and will look just like a herniated disc, except it will go away with ice therapy after a couple of days. Heat almost always feels good and heat works sometimes, but it is not going to get rid of inflammation. Ice doesn’t usually feel as good as heat, but ice will not cause any damage, whereas heat could. What we tell our patients, when in doubt, ice it. If you think your ready for heat, give it a try for 15 to 20 minutes and if the area feels worse later that day or the next day, go back to ice. Having a good Ice pack in your freezer is a good preventative measure, and a great way to calm a tweaked back.
Tip #2, when you’ve got a tweaked back, use a back brace.
Ok, I know there are a lot of people that won’t like this one, and I say oh well, if it works and it helps, use it! Now I’m not talking about a flimsy neoprene belt or a big weight lifting belt, I’m talking about something different. It’s called a “dual pull elastic crisscross lumbosacral belt”, yes it’s a mouthful, but it really does help. When you put one of these on the relief is almost instantaneous. There are many different companies that make these, but I think Core Products makes the best. You can actually get these at Amazon cheaper than we can buy them. Core products makes the best for the best price, you shouldn’t pay more than $25 to $35, and it will last you a long time. I know a lot of people will not like that I said to use a back brace, because a lot of people fear that it will weaken their muscles. I don’t think so, not if you only use it for the acute pain phase. These feel good when you’re hurting, but they are not that comfortable. When you start feeling better, you wont want to wear it. When you’ve got a tweaked back and you’re hurting, the extra support will drop your pain by 25% to 30%, maybe more, just by putting it on. And when you’re hurting, any relief helps. It feels great when you’re hurt, but not so much when you are feeling better, so most people don’t wear it when the pain stops and if you’re not wearing it all the time, it won’t weaken you back muscles.
Tip # 3, use a topical cold spray when you can’t ice.
We use these in the office and we use them at home also. Now I’m not talking about the sprays and creams that heat up your back. No, these are cold gel, sprays or roll-ons, they feel cold and they act like an ice pack. I personally use these on my shoulders, elbows and knees, really anywhere that needs it. The one we like and use the most is called Cryoderm, it seems to last the longest and give the most relief. Cryoderm also has some analgesics (pain reliever) to it that will also decrease the pain. I always tell people who have a “tweaked back” or a problem anywhere, to use it when you can’t use ice, like at work or before going to bed, sleeping with an ice pack isn’t always fun.
Tweaked back Bonus tip, position of comfort
I thought I would put this in here also, some of you know this, but for the few who don’t this will be valuable. When your tweaked back is really bothering you and you can’t seem to get comfortable, try this, it works 90% of the time, and sometimes it’s the only time you may be pain-free. The best position we’ve found to help alleviate lower back (tweaked back) pain, is lying on your back with a pillow or something under your knees to keep your back flat. Try it and see if it helps and by the way this is the perfect way to ice your lower back since you’re just laying around anyway, just put the ice pack under you when you lay down, you’ll be doing two things at once, multitasking bonus!
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I truly hope that this has helped.
Yours in health and being tweaked-back free,