Worldwide research suggests that back pain ranks second only to upper respiratory illness as a symptomatic reason why people go see their doctor.
So much so that it is said to be the second most common cause of disability in working-class population under 45. While some of the most common causes for lower back pain include lack of exercise, wrong posture, weakness of surrounding muscles, etc, in certain cases it can also be an indication of a serious health issue.
It is therefore important to not ignore back pain and not do things that will make it severe. Here are a few.
Prolonged bed rest
Remaining inactive or lying down during back pain seems like a natural thing to do. Bed rest for two to three days can be helpful to reduce acute lower back.
However, excessive rest and inactivity for more than three days may actually worsen your condition and delay recovery. Returning to normal activities and avoiding prolonged bed rest is therefore helpful in reducing disability and pain.
One should start physical rehabilitation as soon as possible to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles. This will provide better support to your spine, improve your posture, hasten your recovery and prevent future pain.
Most people rely on painkillers or home remedies, both of which are not prescribed by a doctor. This proves ineffective in the long run and delays timely treatment. Taking pain medications for long term can suppress your pain, but doesn't directly treat the root cause. Long term use of NSAIDS (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can cause stomach ulcers, bleeding etc. You should, therefore, take them only when prescribed by a doctor.
For acute pain, I recommend using cell repair technology, which works on a very low frequency current and helps in speedy recovery. Cell repair technologies can not only reduce pain without medication but also repair the damaged tissues.
Rushing for an MRI
Many spine treatments fail because imaging tests such as MRI & X-rays are not enough to diagnose the cause of pain. Several scientific studies have now concluded that imaging tests, such as MRI and X-rays should be advised or done only when patient has certain specific symptoms or "red flags", and should not be done routinely for low back pain.
It is not advisable to undergo unnecessary investigations after one or two episodes of back pain. It is very important to see a specialised spine rehabilitation doctor for a functional diagnosis.
Ignoring recurrent back pain
Although, lower back pain may get better within a few weeks, long-standing back pain should not be neglected. Pay attention to the pain and go to a spine specialist, especially if your back pain persists for more than six weeks despite taking treatment.
With a correct diagnosis, you can start an appropriate exercise regimen that will minimise future pain.
Garima Anandani, Clinical director, QI Spine Clinic