Back Pain affects 9 out of 10 people in their lifetime and can range from moderate to severe. A person experiencing severe back pain should consider recent activity in order to rule out a possible spinal injury as the cause. People with severe back pain who have:
- been in an accident such as a motor-vehicle collision,
- have recently slipped, tripped, or taken a fall,
- frequently participate in contact sports, or
- have recently fallen victim to a violent attack,
should contact a medical professional for further evaluation of possible spinal injury.
For most people, common back pain is generally caused by sprains and strains to the muscles around the spine. A strain is the result of a heavy load or sudden force applied to muscles not ready for activity. Sprains are caused by overstretching the ligaments that support the back area.
First Aid for common back pain starts with:
- Hot and cold therapy. Apply a cold pack (or a bag of ice) to the painful area for five to ten minutes at a time. For back pain lasting longer than 2 days, a heating pad, hot bath, or hot shower can help relieve muscle tension and pain.
- Rest the back for no more than 2 days. Too much bed rest will cause the bones to lose calcium and weakens muscles. This not only slows recovery, but can make a back problem worse.
- After the first couple of days, engage in light exercises that do not put strain on the back such as: walking short distances, swimming or water aerobics, or riding a stationary bike.
90% of people with common back pain will recover within the first month. Treatment depends on the condition that is causing the back pain. If back pain does not lessen with home treatment consult with a medical professional to evaluate other potential causes of severe back pain such as spinal misalignment, sciatica, or a slipped or ruptured disc.