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Back Pain? Try a little Peace & Love pt 1

Do you feel low back pain? Then maybe all you need is some peace and love.

Far out, man!

No, not that kind of peace and love.

The old acronym for musculoskeletal injuries management was RICE: (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). At the present moment the science suggests a new acronym: PEACE and LOVE (Protection, Elevation, Avoid Prolonged Use Of Icing , Compression, Education, Load, Optimism, Vascularization and Exercise).

Protection

There are numerous causes of low back pain. Depending on how and where you hurt your back, you’ll notice that some positions and movements hurt, and some seem to give relief. 

For Example: In a posterior disc herniation (you may know this as throwing your back out, or sciaticaflexion based movements (sitting, bending, lifting, walking uphill…)  can aggravate the symptoms and  extension based movements (standing, walking, going downhill…) can decrease the symptoms.

In spondylolysis (weakness or stress fracture in one of the vertebrae) it is totally the opposite, flexion movements are recommended. 

Long story short: in order to protect our spine we need to decrease the aggravating factors.

Note: Protection does not include becoming a couch potato and not moving at all!!

Not sure how to protect your low back? I’ve got you covered.

Elevation

We think ‘elevation’ and often associate this word with a sprained ankle. However, elevation applies to low back pain too:

For instant relief from many low back injuries, I recommended laying with your legs elevated, knees bent and your back completely flat. This position creates a pelvic tilt,  and relieves pressure on your lower back. By elevating your legs and bending your knees you can actually feel your lower back moving. You can realign the weights and pressures on your vertebrae that may in turn be pressing on your delicate nerves, finding more comfortable and less stressful positions.

If this position doesn’t immediately have you saying ahhhh, book in for an assessment and I’ll help you find one that does.

Avoid Prolonged Use of Ice

In the past, icing an injury was almost always automatically recommended for any kind of pain, including low back pain.

The use of ice is mostly pain relief. Did you know that using ice can actually disrupt inflammation and other processes that are required for tissue healing?

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use ice if you hurt yourself. If you are feeling pain, it is okay to use ice for the purpose of giving comfort. It’s just not recommended as a treatment anymore. It is recommended that you do not ice an injury for more than about 5 minutes.

Keep in mind, that icing and other anti-inflammatory tools such as the common NSAIDS (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can be used to help alleviate pain.  However, they are not meant to be seen as a cure for what ails you.

Compression

Wearing back support braces can help provide stability to your spine, especially for those involved in lifting or sports. These braces for back strains help to reduce the amount of twisting or bending your spine may endure throughout the day.

In addition, compressing your spine and back region can help reduce swelling after an injury and promote quicker healing.

It’s important to note you shouldn’t completely rely on such bracing for a strained muscle. If you suffer from a pulled back muscle, you should wear a support brace for only a certain amount of time.

In order for your back to heal, it needs time to strengthen your muscles again. Relying solely on such supports can lead to loss of strength in your back, spine, and shoulders.

Not sure when to call it quits on the back support? Let me help.

Education

Education is key! It’s important that you understand what is happening within your body during the healing process and how an active approach to recovery, rather than a passive approach, can benefit you.

Understanding gives you realistic expectations about treatment and the timeframe it will take to heal.

Therefore always follow the therapist’s advice; it is a crucial step in the treatment!

That’s PEACE for you! Stay tuned for LOVE, coming up next week. In the meanwhile, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m taking on new clients and would love to help you get back to your best.

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Johnny is a Physiotherapy resident with a love for treating all kinds or injuries and impairments, especially injuries resulting in back pain.

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At Whole Therapy, we believe that two heads are better than one. Our team works together to help people: It’s simple. Because one therapy is not always the one for everyone. We know that every body is different, and everyone has different goals, preferences, and timelines when it comes to their health and their bodies.

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