Help, my back went out! What do I do?

November 4, 2019

Dr. Josh BrassDr. Josh Bross is a board-certified chiropractor with Elite Chiropractic and Sport and a member of CA’s Medical Advisory Board


“Help, my back went out! What do I do?”       

By Josh Bross, DC, MS, CSCS, CCSP

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, about 80% of people will experience low-back pain in their lives. More than 25% of adults will have had low-back pain in the past three months. Low-back pain is one of the leading causes of missed work.

Why does your back “go out” or “spasm?” The most common causes are poor posture and poor low-back mechanics. Simply put, low-back sufferers round their back too much. Over time, muscles get tight and irritated, joints get compressed, and/or discs wear down. One bend or twist the wrong way and the low back goes into spasm, knees hit the ground, and immediate relief is needed.

What do you do when this happens? As an experienced chiropractor managing low-back pain for patients every working day, I first recommend icing an acute injury (the first 2-3 days after injury). Icing for 10-15 minutes, on and off as needed, will help control inflammation and pain around the injured area. If the pain does not abate, then ibuprofen or Aleve is generally effective (before taking, talk to your doctor about whether these medications are safe for you). 

If a more natural approach is desired, taking tumeric and magnesium pills can help with inflammation and spasms. If one is able, the Cobra is a yoga pose that can help with low-back pain (see picture below). Try to do two sets of 10 repetitions as you lie flat and then push into the top position. If possible, repeat this exercise often throughout the day.  

If moderate to severe pain is still present, it may be time to see the appropriate health professional. A primary doctor can give you stronger prescription drugs, if needed. A chiropractor or physical therapist can focus on the area that is problematic and offer exercises and therapies to relieve pain. These professionals can provide postural corrections and exercises that can be done at home to prevent other episodes from occurring in the future.

Low-back pain is not fun — but understanding what to do when experiencing it will give you a fighting chance to feel better fast!

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