One of the most common injuries we see is sudden onset acute low back pain, where there has been no warning at all and the activity involved is very minor. A typical scenario may be standing and reaching forward slightly to pick up a light object – such as a piece of paper – followed by instant pain that makes you suddenly immobile. This often creates an element of panic and although the sufferer will often have the instinct to try to get moving, instead they really need to be patient in this situation.
Providing the patient has no previous history, this type of injury will normally settle quite quickly (within about two to four days.) However, the injury needs to be respected and pain avoided, which may initially require a few hours resting in a comfortable position and possibly administering something anti-inflammatory on the first day.
The cause of this type of pain is muscular or fascial. When you analyse potential predisposing factors to the incident happening, you may well realise that you have done an unusual or repetitive action that you are not used to. Another cause may be a change in routine – commonly it may follow an illness where you have been less active and hence lost strength.
These injuries are hard to predict but it goes without saying that if you can maintain your core strength and posture (sitting and standing) they are less likely to occur.
One of the most common injuries we see in both the autumn and the spring is acute low back from lifting heavy garden pots! We are all guilty but should try to remember that this is a two-man job! The difference with this type of injury is that often you may feel something at the time but the real pain may come on a bit later. This would suggest that you have strained something more than just muscle – probably connective tissue such as ligaments or joint capsule. You should seek immediate professional help in this instance.
Both types of back injuries described above will benefit from osteopathic treatment to improve the rate of recovery and help avoid repeat episodes.