Modified and translated by CFJA
What is a strained back?
A strained back (acute lower back pain) can suddenly occur in situations such as bending down to pick up something off the floor, leaning forward to spit water out after gargling or even sneezing. A simple movement in our daily lives can lead to a strained back; it happens suddenly and unexpectedly.
A strained back is similar to a sprain when receiving an excessive amount of force on the moving parts of the back (joints) or to the cartilage (intervertebral disc), which connects the bones together. It can also be due to damage to the muscle or sinews (tendons and ligaments). Moreover, muscle or internal organ fatigue can be considered as the cause as well. However, the reality is, it is very difficult to identify the exact cause.
It is important to note that having severe pain or numbness in the lower back or legs may indicate spinal disc herniation or age-related lumbar spondylosis. This might require an urgent surgical procedure for a lumbar spine fracture or dome tumour, or it can be suspected that it is some other serious illness. In this case, only hospitals that are equipped to perform surgery and can collaborate with a physician, in other words, only medium or above-scale hospitals that have several permanently stationed doctors can treat it. It is best to immediately consult with an orthopedic surgeon to avoid the worst-case scenario.
From acute lower back pain to chronic lower back pain; 93% of all back pain is caused by mental stress?
Generally, symptoms of a strained back will start to fade away within a few days or weeks. However, in some cases, it can take one to three months, and there are quite a number of cases where it becomes chronic. This is why it is important to treat the condition in its early stages. “Lower back” is the “center” of the body. It is said that nine out of ten people will suffer from back pain before they die, as we are now walking on two legs. An academic paper by a university professor of orthopedic surgery has shown that 93% of back pain is caused by psychological stress. When the body feels ‘pain’, it means that the brain has received and recognized the ‘pain signal’. Nevertheless, the human brain has a mechanism that prevents feeling more pain than necessary; if the pain signal is greater than the necessary amount, the brain releases a substance that inhibits the pain signal, which in turn reduces the unnecessary amount of pain.
However, when mental stress is added, this mechanism stops working properly. In the case of back pain, even the slightest pain can be felt strongly, which is a typical case of chronic back pain. This shows that, when approaching lower back pain, it is important to not only take an orthopedic approach but to take the psychological approach as well. In fact, the drugs currently used for the treatment of chronic low back pain have been approved for the treatment of depression and depressive disorders. This demonstrates the importance of taking both the physical and the mental approach to lower back pain. This way of approach, from “body” and “mind”, is the basic approach that has been systematized through a long history of Eastern medicine to deal with various illnesses.
When getting a strained back, find a conformable position that puts the least pressure on the lower back.
What should we do when we get a strained back? First of all, right before getting a strained back, it is important to consult with the doctor as soon as possible. That being said, a strained back can cause intense pain that sometimes, it can be so painful that it seems impossible to stand up. If unable to move, the first thing to do is find a comfortable position that lessens the pressure on the lower back to alleviate the pain as much as possible. A recommended position is lying own on the side with knees slightly bent. This is the position that has the least amount of pressure on the lower back. In some cases, lying on the back with knees slightly bent and a cushion under the knees, or on a low platform with both feet on the floor, may also help. This will vary depending on the symptoms and the body condition immediately after the strained back. Either way, try to stay in a comfortable position that has the least amount of pressure on the lower back.
Three things NOT to do after getting a strained back: 1) taking a bath, 2) massaging, and 3) using a cool patch.
Here are three things that should not be done when getting a strained back. First, do not take a bath. Many people warm up their bodies when they get a strained back. There are times when this can have a positive effect. That being said, it is best to avoid doing anything before seeing a specialist since there are so many factors that might have caused this, which includes the ones that can worsen upon taking a bath. Especially, when pain aggravates after taking a hot bath for more than 5 minutes, it will increase the likelihood of making the body unable to move because of aggravated pain after taking a bath. Second, do not massage (anma). People tend to think that massage helps to relieve pain; the truth is, it can aggravate the pain. Third, do not cool it with a cold patch. Although people are used to calling for an ice bag upon injury, cooling right after getting a strained back will affect negatively.
To treat the strained back, it is required to accurately identify the cause, and appropriate treatment and care need to be given. Taking a bath, massaging, and cooling before visiting a specialist are three worst things you can do to aggravate pain and increase the likelihood of you being unable to move, so please be careful.
Just take some rest after getting a strained back?
What is the next thing to do when the pain has reduced to the point where there is no problem standing up after a few days? It has been said In the past, that the first thing to do is to take a rest. Now, the study suggests that it is better to move as much as possible while avoiding putting too much pressure on the lower back. This is because inactivity can weaken the muscles (abdominal and back muscles) that are strongly associated with back pain.
This has been shown in a number of studies: comparing people who rested to those who moved, the condition of the back pain of those who rested became worse than those who moved as usual. This shows that resting too much delays recovery. Once the pain has lessened, it would be a good idea to go for a walk or even walk around the house to move the body as much as possible.
Many people think about wearing a corset when they have a strained back. Corsets can help by keeping the back warm, protecting the back, and reducing pain by immobilizing the lower back. They also provide a sense of security. However, when the corset is worn, the abdominal and back muscles that support the body core stop being used, leading to a reduction of muscle strength. This will not be helpful for alleviating back pain. It is best to wear the corset on and of depending on the situation. For example, wear it when the pain is severe and remove it when the pain has reduced.
Continue to next week…