Acute low back pain is incredibly common.  According to the National Prescribing Services (NPS) 4 out of 5 Australians will have an acute low back pain episode sometime during their life.

The good news is that you will probably recover from acute low back pain in a few days or weeks.  Acute low back pain is often described as ‘mechanical’ or ‘nonspecific’ because the cause is often unknown. It is believed to be associated with the intevertebral joints, muscles or ligaments of the back.

Low back pain is very rarely caused by serious injury or damage to the spine and usually does not cause lasting damage.

However acute low back pain can still be frightening, debilitating and potentially impact on home or work activities if not managed effectively.

So here are some tips on how to manage your acute low back pain:

–  Keep active & start moving:

Evidence from research strongly supports staying active during an acute low back pain episode speeds your recovery, reduces more chronic or long term disability. When severe, resting or reducing activities for a couple of days may be needs but the sooner you start moving again the sooner your pain levels will ease. Avoid sitting, standing or lying for longer than 20-30mins at a time. Regular breaks and changing position will be beneficial.

–  Stay Positive:

You may feel tired, angry, frustrated or concerned with your back pain, which can heighten your pain levels. Try to relax with deep breathing techniques, relaxation exercises and gentle exercise (i.e. swimming or walking).

–  Return to work:

Most people have a better outcome from their low back pain if they return to work quickly. If your work involves heavy lifting, bending or repetitive work, then speak to your health professional first. You may need to alter some duties or modify the way you work.

–  Treatments:

Speak to your osteopath or other health professional about treatments that might be suitable for you. For example

  • Manual therapy – including massage, spinal manipulation and stretching may be beneficial
  • Dry needling or acupuncture
  • Hot or cold packs

–  Manage the Pain:

Speak to your doctor about pain medication to enable you to stay active during the initial painful period

To speak to an osteopath about your low back pain or other musculoskeletal injury please call Body of Life Health Centre on 9453 3046.

This article was written by Dr Melanie Woollam. Sources include the NPS  Better choices; Better Health Website and Murtagh’s General Practice (2003).