How to get off the back pain train!
Lets talk about back pain. I have lived with back pain and back spasms for most of my life. I have caused back spasms simply by leaning over the wrong way, or picking up an adorable wiener dog. My doctor finally told me that my knees are a tid bit tooo close together. This is known as Genu valgum, but commonly called “knock-knee“. This was something I learned about myself 2 years ago. It is not severe; obviously doctors never noticed it until I was 20 years old. But it does affect how I am aligned and how I feel. I have learned to deal with this with a combination of stretches, heating pads and a lovely cocktail of muscle relaxers that help sooth the pain. I myself do not like to take muscle relaxers. I have never had a bad experience with them, but the idea of them freaks me out a little, so I do my best to avoid having to take them. I usually know if I am going to have a back spasm, they start as a twinge that usually I can catch and care for before it blows up into something much more painful. Here are my tips and tricks for avoiding back spasms and other back pain.
Tip 1: Rest. Do not over exert yourself if you know (or feel) that your back is off. It is something that you will know right away. Lay down with your feet at a 90 degree angle (prop them up on a stool, or lay on the floor and put them on a bed or chair). By doing this, you take all of the pressure off of your back and it is able to finally relax. This is by far the best thing I do when I have a back spasm.
Tip 2: Invest. Invest in a heating pad. This lovely tool will be your best friend if you have a back spasm. If you prop your feet up like I say in tip 1, place a heating pad under your lower back and let it work it’s magic. I honestly believe the combination of tip 1 & 2 have saved my back on many occasions. If you cannot rest your back and have work or class, I have used ThermaCare heat wraps in the past with success.
Tip 3: Stretch. In the early stages of a back spasm, stretching helps me quite a bit. Make sure you are very gentle and only push yourself to where you feel comfortable. Some of my favorite stretches are listed here.
Tip 4: Splurge. Last fall I suffered from a horrible back spasm. It was the worst I can remember. I hurt myself by putting oil in my car (yeah, it only takes one stupid hunch!) and then driving 40 minutes. By the time I was able to get out of the car, I could hardly walk. I could hardly move, let alone get out of a car or bed for a couple of days. Life went on though- classes were attended, and I still went to work; but I felt horrible. This back spasm just wouldn’t quit. Finally one day I finally snapped and made an appointment for a deep tissue massage. I told the therapist what my situation was and hoped for the best. It was the best decision! It was not a relaxing massage by any means. This woman was a force to be reckoned with and slapped my back into shape. This helped my back immensely and I was finally able to heal. This was a big splurge for me. As a poor college student, getting a massage isn’t something I just go do. It was the end of line for me and I knew I needed to do something to speed up my recovery.
Tip 5: Medicate: If you have a back spasm for the first time (or have them repeatedly) I recommend seeing your doctor. Even though I do not like to take medication, sometimes it is necessary. When you have severe back pain, sometimes it is impossible to sleep. Medication helps your muscles relax and makes it possible to finally rest. If you don’t want to use muscle relaxers, rotating between taking aspirin and ibuprofen helps a lot. A good nights sleep works wonders for any condition!
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, but I have had a lot of experience with back pain. These tips and tricks are things that I have done that have worked for me in the past. If you are in severe back pain, contact your doctor. (If you feel tingling, or cannot feel your feet it is probably a spinal issue).