Because back pain affects roughly 90 percent of the population at one time or another, it’s easy to get into the habit of assuming discomfort related to some type of injury that’s not an obvious medical emergency will eventually go away. While this does happen sometimes, pain that’s sticking around or getting worse isn’t something that should be ignored. Instead, it’s best to consider the tips discussed below if you’re experiencing pain related to a lingering back injury.
First and foremost, stop ignoring pain from a lingering back injury. Also, if you’ve been resting and using over-the-counter pain relievers without much success for several weeks or months, realize it’s time to stop and try something more effective. Even if pain meds do provide temporary relief, you’re only masking your symptoms, not treating them.
Even pain that’s dull or mild can be a sign of a serious problem if symptoms stay around or keep returning. Avoid the temptation to self-diagnose or rely on advice from well-meaning friends, and see your regular doctor or a spine specialist. The doctor can find out what’s really going on with your back and its supporting parts by:
• Reviewing your symptoms and medical history
• Performing a thorough physical exam
• Ordering X-rays, CT scans, and other specialized tests so an accurate diagnosis can be made
Because some injuries ultimately require surgical intervention such as lumbar disc replacement, Santa Monica patients are much more likely to have positive outcomes if they seek medical advice as soon as possible after their injuries.
As mentioned above, painkillers only mask pain, and too much rest can weaken muscles that support your spine and make your discomfort worse. Focus on active treatments designed to strengthen spine-supporting muscles and promote overall healing and recovery. Active treatments that tend to produce long-term results include:
• Physical therapy exercises targeting key muscle groups
• Stretching techniques to restore range of motion and flexibility
• Exercises to correct issues related to poor posture
• Routines that strengthen spinal joints and bones
Once a treatment plan is recommended for you, stick to it. If you stop going to physical therapy sessions or fail to do what’s suggested between sessions, you’ll be less likely to see the results you’re hoping for. After you have a solid game plan in place, increase your odds of benefiting from it by:
• Getting a contact number for your doctor or Santa Monica spine surgeon so you can ask questions as you recover and do what’s recommended
• Providing honest feedback to your physical therapist so adjustments can be made to fit your needs and goals
• Reporting any significant noticeable changes in your symptoms as your recovery advances
While self-care remedies like applying heat or cold to the affected area may help, it’s best to get an accurate diagnosis if your spine-related pain keeps coming back. The good news is most back injuries respond well to conservative (non-surgical) care. And if surgery is eventually recommended, many techniques used today are as minimally invasive as possible.
If you’ve injured your back or you’re experiencing severe or prolonged back pain, call on the spinal health pioneers at The Spine Institute. Our experienced physicians lead the industry in using the most innovative methods to diagnose and treat back pain so patients can get back to enjoying life to the fullest. To schedule a consultation, give us a call today at 310-828-7757.