Throwing your back out is a painful scenario that is actually quite common. It is typical for someone with an acute episode of back pain to tell me:
“I bent down to…, but I could not stand back up.”
“I stood up after bending down, but immediately I knew something was wrong with my back.”
“I twisted my back and quickly felt severe back pain.”
“My back has been hurting since I was moving a lot of stuff around recently.”
What To Do For Acute Back Pain:
Step 1. Decide if it is serious enough to see a doctor immediately.
Reasons To See a Doctor Immediately For A New Back Injury:
1. You can barely walk.
2. Your pain is so severe that no over-the-counter medicine is helping.
3. You experienced major trauma to your back.
4. The injury caused you to lose sensation in your pelvis or legs.
5. The injury has changed your ability to control your bowel/bladder function.
6. You have noticeable weakness in one or both legs as a result of your injury.
Home Treatments For A New Back Injury:
1. Ice. Ice down your back or the painful area for 10-20 minutes at a time, throughout the day.
2. Over-the-counter Pain Medicine, preferably an anti-inflammatory (Advil, Aleve, Ibuprofen).
3. Rest. Find the most comfortable positions and avoid aggravating movements.
4. Time. If it is not a major injury, it should progressively improve over the next few weeks.
Should You Immediately See a Chiropractor For a New Back Injury?
Seeing a chiropractor may be a good option if you have one that you know and trust. Ideally, go to one that has successfully treated you in the past. They can rule out red flags and tell you if/when to see a physician. If your pain is not improving with chiropractic treatment, do not continue for more than 3-4 weeks.
Should You See a Physical Therapist For a New Back Injury?
Yes! However, most Physical Therapists require a doctor’s prescription before beginning treatment, so be sure to ask your doctor for this. In my experience, most patients with a new back injury will significantly improve within 1-2 weeks of PT, and many patients will get immediate pain relief within the first visit. If your pain is not improving within a month of PT, follow up with your doctor for further testing or treatment options.