Lower back pain, especially the type that occurs suddenly, is stressful. The stress is both emotional (alarm and worry due to the sudden pain) and physical (muscle tension which contributes to the pain). To get relief from sudden onset lower back pain, calming both forms of stress is important.
It’s almost inevitable
To help alleviate some of the worry associated with back pain, remember that most of us will suffer from it. One common cause, aging, is unavoidable, although preventative measures can help delay some of the effects. As we age, the discs cushioning our spinal cord begin to lose moisture. Their cushioning effect diminishes and various types of movement may become painful—especially sudden or unexpected movements.
Starting physical activity without warming up or exercising after you haven’t been working out for a while can bring on sudden low back pain and muscle stress. Picking up a heavy object without proper form (or doing so continually) can leave you with back pain. Sometimes the cumulative effect of bad posture when sitting, standing or sleeping over time will set you up for back problems and pain. Obesity also puts extra strain on the body, including the back.
The moral: stay strong with regular exercise and by controlling those factors within your power. You may still not be able to avoid sudden back pain, tightness or soreness completely, however.
Treating the tension that comes with sudden onset back pain
Whether your sudden back pain occurred on the tennis court or getting up from a too-soft couch after hours of watching the game, use these simple strategies to get relief from tension and pain:
- NOTE: If you have a high temperature and/or experience loss of bladder or bowel control along with back pain, seek emergency medical care immediately.
- For best results, see an Illinois back specialist to get personalized treatment and learn exercises tailored to your specific situation. If a movement hurts or just doesn't feel right, do not do it. Talk to your doctor for guidance.
- Apply heat to the sore area.
- Take an over-the-counter NSAID pain reliever if you have no allergy or contraindications.
If pain is diminished by lying down or standing:
- Rest --
- Lie down on a carpeted or slightly padded floor--on your back, placing a rolled towel under your neck. Place a pillow beneath the knees.
- Extend your arms comfortably to the sides, palms up.
- Rest, breathing normally, for at least 10 minutes.
- Press-up back extension --
- Lie on your stomach, supporting your upper body with forearms on the floor.
- Push against the floor with forearms raising your upper back. (Arch your back without using back or stomach muscles.) Keep the hips and pelvis on the floor.
- Hold for about 30 seconds, then release.
- Knees to Chest --
- To start, lie down on your back and bend the knees, with your feet flat on the floor.
- Bring one knee slowly up to your chest and then the other. Don’t raise both legs at once.
- Hold 30 seconds.
- Relax and lower/straighten legs one at a time—back onto the floor.
- Rest 30 seconds.
- Walk –
- (This reduces pain for many people!)
- Stand tall, with head up and eyes forward.
- Keep shoulders relaxed. Shrug shoulders occasionally as you walk, to release any tension.
For sudden onset back pain relief, make an appointment with the Illinois Back Institute. Learn more about Functional Disc Rehydration, a simple and non-invasive treatment, developed by Dr. Jeff Winternheimer D.C. to cure back pain naturally.