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Your First Aid Kit to Back Pain

By: Dr. Arnan Sisson

One of the scariest things that comes along with chronic back or sciatic pain is the unpredictability of it all. You may have periods in your life where theirs not much of any pain, but right before that beach vacation you’ve planned for the last 3 months…back pain. Not just any old back pain, but spasms that are intense enough to send you to the emergency room and cancel your dream vacation.

This is all too common in my back pain specialty practice. Folks have flare-ups that can go on for up to 40+ years. They’ve tried creams, gadgets, loads of chiropractic adjustments, massage, and even 12-16 weeks of traditional physical therapy with no end to this awful cycle.

Today I’m going to try to help everyone avoid this frustration. We’ll be going over a specific strategy that won’t eliminate back pain 100% but will be essential for improving mobility, reducing pain, and helping anyone get through a sudden back pain flare-up.

When someone has a sudden bout of back pain, the initial urge would be to grab some Tylenol, sit in their favorite chair, and ride it out. To some degree this is right, you may want to take some anti-inflammatory medication and reduce your activity levels. 

But more specifically, getting in a different position will serve you better. I’ve found that slightly extending the back at times when the back is extremely angry can work wonders. To do this you simply go to your bed and lay on your stomach. The goal is to aim for 10 minutes and do these every 2 hours. The first minute or two may feel awful but continue to hold the position until the end. At the end of 10 minutes, if this position makes you worse, it is best to discontinue it and seek out help from your local back expert. 

This position works very well with ice. Ice has a larger effect on high levels of pain short term than heat does. So, applying an ice pack to the lower back for 10 minutes should enhance the position. And it's important to note, that trying this position on the floor is a BAD idea! Going to and from the floor often rounds or twists the back. When it's very sensitive we want to avoid this through the use of the bed. By using the bed, we can slide in/out of position with less pain.

Along with this static position and the ice, getting up and going for short walks is essential. Making sure to limit the distance is important early on to avoid the risk of making the flare-up worse. It's important to start small (ex, 15-30 sec) and perform the walks every 2 hours. Then gradually increase your distances each day.

There it is, a step-by-step first aid kid for big flare-ups of back pain. It's important to note though that this is not a complete fix. That would require a much more in-depth movement exam and a more detailed prescription. But it will help calm the back down in 80% of cases of short-term intense back pain.

That’s it for today, everyone, remember movement is medicine!

P.S. Have you been suffering from intense flare-ups of back pain for 10+ years and worried that it’ll never end? If so, we have 1-2 slots open weekly for new back pain clients. Call us today at (804) 493-0002 or click here to see if you’re a good fit for our back pain specialty practice. And if so, we can not only determine the root cause of your pain. But provide a prescription that will help you get rid of the pain pills, avoid surgery, and finally enjoy family time again!