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How To Handle Acute Low Back Pain

Acute low back pain is one of the most common issues we see in the clinic. If you've suffered from it, you have probably wondered what to do about it. Here are some answers to the most common questions we get asked!

SHOULD I REST OR KEEP MOVING? Answer: keep moving! One of the worst things you can do for a sore low back is to completely rest. Almost all low back pain is a caused by stiff, tight, painful muscles. You need to move early and move often. Any form of gentle exercise will help. Avoid heavy or explosive exercises initially, eg. weights, running, jumping etc. SHOULD I USE A HEAT PACK OR ICE? Answer: whatever makes you feel better! We generally recommend using a heat pack to manage low back pain in the first few days. However the truth is that neither will particularly help or hurt you. They are simply tools that can (sometimes) help mitigate symptoms. If either one makes you feel better, then use that. If neither makes you feel better, then don’t bother. DOES BACK PAIN MEAN THAT MY BACK IS INJURED? Answer: no (usually). Over 90% of back pain is not correlated with any specific injury. This means that, although the pain can be severe or debilitating, there is no structural damage to the spine. Your spine is actually incredibly strong and durable, even when it feels weak and fragile. Take home message: pain does not equate to injury, and your back is stronger than you think. WHO IS THE BEST PERSON TO SEE ABOUT MY BACK PAIN? Answer: a Physiotherapist. Many people will go to their GP first when they have back pain, and all too often the treatment is pain-killers and an X-ray referral. We have the utmost respect for GP’s, most are wonderful and have extensive medical knowledge. But musculoskeletal pain is not their speciality. A physio is far more qualified to assess your back pain, and then decide whether referral to a GP or specialist is necessary, and whether X-rays or MRI’s are necessary (almost always not!). If you need help, reach out to our caring and friendly team at our Chatswood or North Sydney Physiotherapy Clinic. You’ll be glad you did!

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