Your back is incredibly strong and robust. It is one of the strongest parts of your body. Our backs are very good at doing the things it is designed to do such as bending, lifting and twisting. Back complaints are very common and can be concerning if they are very painful. However, a back complaint is rarely due to anything serious. In most cases things will get better within approximately 4 to 6 weeks. Pain that goes on longer for this can also be managed with various different treatments. However remember, serious injury is very rare and the outlook is good.
If you have had trauma to your back or symptoms such as sciatica on both sides weakness or numbness in both legs that is severe or getting worse, numbness around or under your genitals, or around your anus. Finding it hard to start peeing, can't pee or can't control when you pee – and this isn't normal for you, you don't notice when you need to poo or can't control when you poo – and this isn't normal for you please contact medical services immediately.
What can I do to help myself?
Your back might be sore but is safe to use. Being worried or scared about moving your back can actually make it hurt more. Making some adjustments to what you do whilst your back is sore is a good idea. Taking more breaks and breaking tasks down well help when using your back. It is normal to feel some discomfort when you first get moving but this does not mean you are causing damage.
For most back complaints, movement is the most effective approach. The key is to find something that you enjoy performing or willing to continue on with on a regular basis.
Ice or heat: If your back is painful then applying an ice pack, hot water bottle or gels may be helpful for reducing pain. A packet of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel works well as an ice pack. Leave the peas in place for up to 20 minutes at a time. This can be repeated several times a day. If using gels then check with your GP or Pharmacist if you have other health conditions/medications which may prevent this.
Reducing the strain on your back : It is usually best to carry out your normal activities, but try not to overdo it. You need to pace yourself to start with and try to do a bit more each day.
Rest : Aim for a balance between rest and exercise to prevent your back from stiffening up. Try to avoid the movements that are most painful. However, it’s important to remain generally active even if you have to limit how much you do. Try not push through the pain.
Exercise: The strength of the muscles of around your back often influences back pain. Keeping the mobility in your back is also important in rehabilitation. A little post exercise discomfort is not uncommon and not a sign of damage. If you experience pain that regularly lasts for more than 30 minutes after exercise and feel that overall your pain is worsening please stop all exercises and seek advice from the physiotherapy department.