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What YOU Can Do when Experiencing Severe Lower Back Pain

If you have had to suffer through a bout of severe lower back pain, you know just how horrible and scary symptoms like those can be.  So please allow me to share with you a few self-treatment methods that you can do at home if you ever find yourself experiencing painful symptoms like that again.

While many people unfortunately suffer from mild lower back aching pain and stiffness every day, the specific type of pain episode that we are discussing here comes on quickly, can be a result of repetitive forward bending, attempting to lift something heavy, or prolonged “hunched over” postures, and can be described as “sharp”, “stabbing”, or “shooting”.  While this type of lower back pain is often localized to the low back, it often will radiate or “shoot down” into the buttocks, thigh, or even the entire leg…sometimes this radiating symptom is described as an “electric shock”. 

With severe lower back pain like this, often your mobility will be extremely limited and you will find it very difficult to move or change positions.  Similarly, you may feel as if your back is “locked” in a hunched over position, making it practically impossible to stand up straight.  Also, you may find that many historically restful positions, like sitting down or lying on your back, can be relatively uncomfortable and will often worsen your symptoms.

If these descriptors accurately portray an episode that you or a friend have suffered through, or maybe ARE currently experiencing, then please follow these simple instructions that can help decrease your symptoms and get you back up and moving again:

This may sound strange to say, but YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND YOUR PAIN! 

Being informed about the acute pain process is vital when managing your severe symptoms.

The type of pain that you are experiencing has a major “chemical inflammatory” aspect to it, which is a fancy way of saying that there is some swelling and inflammation involved.  This can cause your levels of pain sensation around the problematic area to be significantly heightened or hyper-sensitive, which means that typically “normal”, non-painful movements or postures can be exceedingly painful. 

The important thing to understand is that because of this heightened sensitivity, the severity of your symptoms often does NOT correlate to the severity of your problem!  This means that just because your pain levels may be “high”, you most likely are not seriously injured, and the good news is that because your body repairs inflammation on its own, the sensitivity will decrease, and your pain levels will too!

Remember, understanding how your body reacts to and deals with pain is a key part of the healing process that is necessary to diminish the anxiety and stress that often accompanies severe pain…knowing what to expect can decrease your anxious fears and, in turn, diminish your painful symptoms.

Now that you have a better understanding about what exactly is happening during your severe pain episode, here are some practical tips to manage your symptoms:

  • Active Rest
    • This means that even though you are experiencing severe pain, you should not be “bed ridden”
    • Attempt to get up and move around as much as possible, without significantly worsening your symptoms
    • That can mean anything from walking on a treadmill, performing some basic calisthenics, or even going for a light jog
    • Staying up, active, and mobile while being a bit achy is preferable to prolonged sitting or lying in bed due to fear of movement
  • Ice Pack/Hot Moist Pack
    • Use whichever you prefer (ice or heat) since neither have extraordinary effects
    • Rules are the same: 20 minutes “on”, followed by 20 minutes “off”…you can do it often as you like
    • If you feel like it is providing you with relief, continue to use it…but if you feel like it is not doing much, then stop wasting your time
  • Natural Anti-Inflammatories
    • There are particular nutritional supplements and botanicals that have fantastic anti-inflammatory properties, without the negative side-effects of some of their over-the-counter or prescription brothers
      • Omega-3 Fish Oils: quality is key here, so don’t skimp on the cheapest, generic brand
      • Brand Suggestions: NOW, Carlson’s
      • Turmeric/Curcumin: can also be found in combination with Bromelain
    • No Worse Rule
      • You do not want your symptoms to “worsen” as a result of the things that you are doing right now
      • The definition of “worse” means that your pain levels jump by “2 or more” points on the “pain scale”
        • E.g. If you rate your pain as a 6/10, then try some back stretches and afterward your pain is 8/10, then your symptoms have become “worse”
      • The definition of “worse” also means that your symptoms have radiated away from your back
        • E.g. If you are currently feeling symptoms in your low back and buttock, and after stretches you feel the symptoms in your thigh and leg, then your symptoms have become “worse”
      • If your symptoms do worsen, attempt to find a previously comfortable position or try ice/heat to allow your flare up to calm down

If you are experiencing severe lower back pain, and would like a professional evaluation and expert treatment that comes directly to your home or place of business, then schedule your house call appointment now with Dr. Bill.


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