Symptoms and Treatment of Back Pain
One of the most common types of back pain is a back strain. Symptoms of a back strain can include:
- Muscle spasms or cramping
- Muscle weakness or loss of function
Treatment for back strain:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
- Acetaminophen – This works by blocking the brain’s perception of pain. It has few side effects.
- NSAIDS – Works by limiting inflammation. Inflammation is usually, at least partially, responsible for back pain.
- Example of NSAIDS
- IBUPROFEN (Advil, Motrin or Nuprin)
- Naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn)
- COX-2 Inhibitors (Celebrex) – This is by prescription only
- Example of NSAIDS
- Ice Therapy
- Place ice on the injured area right after the injury occurs (within 48 hours). Placing ice over the injured area helps by:
- Reducing inflammation
- Numbs the sore tissue
- Slows the nerve impulses
- Decreases tissue damage
- Heat therapy
- Heat is also good for a back strain, as long as it is not used until after the first 48 hours.
- Enlarges the blood vessels which will increase the oxygen flow and help provide nutrients to the injured area
- Stimulates the sensory receptors in the skin reducing the number of pain signals being sent to the brain
- Helps tissue around the spine stretch more easily by reducing the stiffness and giving the back better flexibility, both of which are very important for the back
A good system to use whenever any kind of acute injury occurs is called the RICE method. The RICE method can be difficult to do with a back injury, however, if this is used as a general guideline, it should speed up recovery time. The RICE method has four different steps. They include: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevate.
1. Rest – After an injury occurs, do not continue to participate in that activity. Even if the pain is minor, you should stop the activity. Many injuries will not seem painful until the next morning. Ideally, you should stop all strenuous activity to prevent further injury. When you are resting for lower back pain, bed rest is no longer recommended. It is now recommended that you lay on your back with a pillow between your knees. This will keep your back in a neutral position. It also can be helpful to lay on the floor with knees bent at a 90° angle.
2. Ice – Ice is always a good choice to put on an acute injury within the first 48 hours after the injury occurs. An acute injury is usually an injury that has occurred within the last 3-4 days. Acute injuries can have very severe symptoms. Apply ice for 10-minute increments, then remove. Over-icing can cause tissue and nerve damage. You may also use a Phase Change Cooling device like the AllTuff USA Super Cool Therapy Back Cooler. This device will freeze at 58°F so it does not cause any skin damage or irritation.
3. Compression – Compression can be difficult to apply to the back. However, if you have an AllTuff USA Super Cool Therapy Back Cooler, it will provide both the compression and the cooling to help treat the injured area. Compression works by compressing the injured area and not allowing excess fluids to flow to the injured area.
4. Elevation – Elevation can also be difficult for a back injury. Elevation uses gravity to assist in draining the excess fluid from the injured area.