Chiropractic First Aid

The best thing you can do for an acute back pain is use ice only on the painful areas for the first 24 hours. A gel ice pack is great, or you can put frozen peas or corn in a plastic bag. Use a thin layer of cloth between the pack and your skin to prevent freezing the skin. The important thing is to get cold on the painful area. Keep the cold on for 20 minutes, then take it off for about an hour to allow blood to flow back into the area.

It’s not necessary to lie down in order to ice. You can put an ice pack inside your waistband and continue with your normal activities, or use a velcro wrap, available in the pharmacy section of stores, to hold the ice in place on any painful area.

Ice helps to control inflammation and swelling, so tissues are not further injured by the swelling. Heat may feel good, and may help relax muscles, but it will increase swelling in an injured area. The rule of thumb is to use ice on and close to the spine and sore joints, heat on surrounding muscles. You can alternate ice and heat in the same 20 minute on, hour off pattern as long as you begin and end with ice.

In general, you will feel best lying on your back on a firm surface with your knees bent. This varies depending on the exact nature of your injury, so if you find another position which is more comfortable, use it.

You will often be more comfortable standing or walking rather than sitting. If you must sit, opt for a reclined position to take some of the load off the lower back joints. If you must sit in an upright position, make sure you get up and move around at least once per hour.

If you can walk, do so. Walking keeps the spinal joints moving, and strengthens muscles in a balanced way.

If the pain persists, or if you have pain or numbness radiating down an arm or leg, see your chiropractor as soon as possible.