I just experienced my first back injury at work. I didn't really do anything wrong. I was turning to reach for something and the left side of my back seized up. I'm laid low in bed searching the Internet for solutions. What should I do? Should I see my doctor right away? Should I wait it out? I'm in a panic.Back pain is extremely common and always has been. Studies over the years have made it clear that the majority of healthy adults will have a day or two of back pain now and then.
We know that in 80 per cent of the people with occasional back pain, the symptoms will go away in less than a week to 10 days. Rest is okay for the first day but activity is always much better.
With acute low back pain, you can use an ice pack to help reduce the muscle spasm. Then while it's numb from the cold, do some walking around the house. Alternate periods of rest and inactivity with movement and activity.
Be aware of your breathing. Many people in pain feel anxious about their situation. It's very easy to hold your body stiff against the pain. You start to take infrequent or shallow breaths when you really need to take slow, deep breaths often. Breathing will help you and your muscles relax and reduce pain intensity.
If there are no medical precautions, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers for a few days. However, if you experience a sudden fever, blood in your urine or stool, or other more serious symptoms, check with your doctor. In a very small number of cases, back pain is caused by infection or other systemic disease.
References:Richard A. Deyo, MD, MPH, et al. Back Pain Prevalence and Visit Rates. Estimates From U.S. National Surveys, 2002. In Spine November 2006. Vol. 31. No. 23. Pp. 2724-2727.
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