Disclaimer: Since it’s unethical (and probably illegal) to dispense medical advice over the internet, please read the following blog post as advice that I (the author) would give to myself if I were visiting from a parallel universe.
If anyone is suffering from severe back pain, whether it’s in standing, sitting, or even lying down, the best thing that you can do is get a note book and start writing down all the circumstances surrounding the back pain.
It’s not a good idea to start doing this or that to yourself if you don’t know what’s causing the problem. And, to get a handle on what could be causing the problem, you have to figure out what things can make the problem worse and what can make it better.
For severe pain, you need to seek medical attention as soon as you can. And you’re going to share these notes with your doctor when you see them. So, they need to be as concise and descriptive as possible.
If you have severe back pain and you don’t have (or even if you do) a good idea of why it’s there or what could have caused it, you are going to want to speak with a medical doctor rather than a doctor of chiropractic. The main reason for this is that medical doctors have a greater array of medical tests at their disposal than chiropractors do.
While you can start writing notes at any time, you’ll need your back to be as comfortable as possible to record some of the notes. But, if you can help it, you don’t want the pain to be masked by a lot of pain killing drugs. This is because you’ll want to know exactly what flares your back up and what doesn’t.
The following list are some of the things you’ll want to include in this short exercise. So, get a pen and paper and get comfortable. Let your back pain subside a little and clear your mind as much as possible.
Include the following in your notes on your back pain:
- When did the back pain start and can you point to anything that may have caused it?
- On a scale of 0-10, where zero is no pain at all, what’s the highest the pain reaches?
- Where is the pain localized? Does it move around? Does it travel down or up your legs?
- Describe the pain at it’s worst. Is it burning? Shocking? Numbing? Aching? Sharp? Pressure?
These next notes will require that you move around. So, why not write down what your going to do first and then just make quick notes so it doesn’t take too long. You’re going to need a watch with a second hand and you’re going to need to be near a counter or table that will support your weight.
These next movements will require that you stand up but, you don’t have to do them all at once. Your pain might be too severe and you should rest when you need to.
So write answers to the following questions describing what happens when you stand. And, these are gentle movements.
- How long can you stand before the pain starts?
- What happens when you bend forward?
- What happens when you bend/arch backwards?
- What happens when you turn to your right?
- What happens when you turn to your left?
- Does the pain travel or spread when you stand?
- Resting your elbows on a counter or table, what happens to the pain?
- What happens when you move off your elbows to your hands?
- Are you having any problems with your bowels, bladder, or sexual function?
Thinking about these questions and having good answers for them will save a lot of time when you get in to see the doctor. While they may have you do some of the same things, it will help determine which tests they may order and what may be causing your problems.
The majority of cases of back pain are caused simply by muscle strain(s). They can be incredibly debilitating and feel a lot worse than they are.
In other cases, the bones of the pelvis and sacrum can become misaligned and caused a lot of problems for people. Most of the time they produce a deep, dull, ache.
Most of the time these types of problems don’t show up on any diagnostic tests but are found by “palpation” or physical hands on examination. These are best handled by Ostepathic physicians or physical therapists trained in osteopathic techniques.
Since these problems can’t be found by MRIs or x-rays, a good rule of thumb may be to seek out an Osteopath if your medical doctor can’t find anything wrong with you.
And still other cases of back pain can be caused by serious medical conditions. That’s why you need to seek medical attention as soon as you can.
For additional information check out my posts on back pain causes and sciatica symptoms.
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