Episodes of crippling back pain are often described the same way, regardless of cause: “My back went out, and I don’t know what to do about it.” It’s impossible, of course, for your back to “go out,” but the end result is the same.
Coping with lower back pain is a lifelong battle for many people. Sometimes it is caused by a past injury, but more often the root of the problem is far more obscure. Poor posture, sedentary living, lack of muscle development, and simple strains and sprains can cause lower back pain for months or even years.
When the Pain Starts
Lower back pain sometimes comes on suddenly, with no warning. You bend over to pick something up or twist in a strange direction, and all of a sudden you can’t even move because the pain is excruciating.
Safety is the top priority. Sit down (or lie down) in a safe place as quickly as possible. If someone else is with you, ask for his or her help. In extreme cases, when you are unable to walk or sit, it might be necessary to go to the emergency room rather than trying to handle the problem yourself.
Either way, a doctor’s advice is critical. According to ABC, lying down for an extended period of time with lower back pain can actually cause more discomfort because the muscles and ligaments tighten. But you don’t want to pursue activity until you know it’s safe.
When you talk to your doctor, avoid general statements like, “My back went out.” Explain specifically how the pain started, and when, so your doctor can make an accurate diagnosis.
At-Home Lower Back Pain Treatment
If you’ve experienced lower back pain before, and you know it isn’t a serious condition, relieving the pain is probably your first concern. In my experience, it is always better to apply ice initially to reduce swelling and blood flow, which will reduce pain.
Alternate ice and heat every few hours until the pain starts to decline. Take an over-the-counter NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) such as ibuprofen, or a muscle relaxer if specifically prescribed by your doctor. If you must lie down, choose flat, firm surfaces rather than soft, uneven ones.
Sitting is often extremely uncomfortable during periods of lower back pain. This is because the sitting position compresses your spine and puts pressure on your lower back. When sitting, roll up a towel to place at the small of your back, which will help lend support and ease discomfort.
Preventing Lower Back Pain
There is no fool-proof method for eliminating lower back pain from your life, but you can make it easier for your body to recover. According to ABC, exercising the muscles around your spine as well as your core is the best method.
Work on improving your posture and developing those core muscles. Your doctor will be able to help you devise an exercise routine that will ease lower back pain and help get you back to your old, healthy, self.