Top 3 things to do when you injure your back
Back injuries are extremely common in both sedentary and sporting populations and accounts for the musculoskeletal disorders with the highest years lived with disability. In fact, lifetime prevalence of back pain is 80%! Attending to back injuries as soon as they occur is associated with a better outcome and reduces the rate of re-injury. In this Balmain Chiropractic Centre blog, Martin, our resident chiropractor, will discuss the top 3 things to do when you injure your back.
1. Find an appropriate clinician
Finding a clinician who specialises in managing musculoskeletal disorders can make a considerable difference in the outcome of your pain episode compared to simply doing nothing. Chiropractic, physiotherapy and osteopathic clinicians are highly trained in diagnosing, treating and managing back pain. Evidence-based guidelines recommend a course of individually tailored, conservative management programmes for patients with back pain. With techniques like soft tissue therapy, mobilisations, manipulations, heat therapy, ultrasound and strapping/taping, and graded exercise regimes, clinicians can help improve spinal mobility and core and hip strength. Evidence has shown that when patients seek conservative care, like chiropractic consultations, for management of back pain, they are far more likely to resolve quicker, be educated about their condition and risk factors, make well-informed decisions and self-manage effectively thereby reducing risk of re-injury. This not only has impact on an individual level, but also at a socioeconomic level, by taking significant burden off the healthcare system.
2. Keep moving and strengthening
Concerned to start moving your back after an injury? This makes sense, after all patients want to be careful as to avoid further injury and pain. But, this is in fact the very opposite of what patients should be doing. Even in acute (i.e., 0-4 days) back pain, patients can begin comfortable and safe mobility exercises to reduce mechanical load on injured tissues, help reduce static inflammation and begin to stretch and strengthen muscle. This is even truer for patients with chronic (i.e., >14 days) back pain. Evidence indicates that patients who stay active despite back pain have more mobility and less pain than those who are inactive. Activities like walking, swimming and low-impact aerobics can also be helpful in reducing pain and facilitate conditioning of the back. Moreover, studies have shown that yoga and stretching can reduce pain and improve spinal mobility. While exercises are one of the best things you can do for your back pain, patients should firstly consult with an appropriate clinician, who will assess the degree of back injury and from there will recommend an appropriate management plan, which is individually tailored and effective.
3. The three M’s: mobilisations, manipulation and massage
Systematic reviews with meta-analysis have shown that spinal mobilisations and manipulations – a technique used by chiropractic clinicians and other physical therapists to improve spinal mobility – is a safe and effective intervention for patients with back pain. Spinal mobilisations are slow, heavy passive accessory intervertebral ‘pushes’ that clinicians perform on patient’s backs to improve joint mobility. Spinal manipulations, are similar to mobilisations, except the ‘push’ is often quicker and an audible ‘cracking’ sound can be heard. This cracking sound is called a cavitation and occurs when the applied force separates the articular surfaces of a synovial joint, which reduces the pressure in the joint and collapses carbon dioxide bubbles causing the cracking sound. This technique has reliably been shown to be safe and effective for back pain and stiffness, but you may need several sessions to resolve back pain episodes and maintain the biomechanical effects. Soft tissue massage can also provide relief from back pain too. A study found that participant we either had a remedial massage or relaxation massage had a better improvement in back symptoms when compared to a control group. Subjects were able to get through activities of daily living more easily and also used less pain medication than those who received no care. If strengthening and mobility exercises, spinal mobilisation, manipulation or soft tissue massage interest you, seek advice from a qualified musculoskeletal expert.
At Balmain Chiropractic Centre, our chiropractic clinicians are highly skilled and trained to identify factors leading to a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions and provide evidence-based, individualised treatment plans for patients. Visit us at our Inner West clinic today.
Please visit our website and blog pages for more information on what causes back pain: