Monday, April 11th, 2011

I “Threw my back out” how do I fix it?

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When you say “I threw my back out, how do I fix it?” I wish I could just tell you to “throw it back in” or reverse whatever you did to throw it out, but it usually doesn’t work that way. Although there have been cases where someone with a bad back takes a sudden fall or turns a certain way, feels a pop in their back and suddenly notices that their previous pain is gone. On rare occasions after such a traumatic event even lost sight or hearing have been restored. No doubt these would be the exception rather than the rule so, let’s look at what you could do instead.

The spine is a complex bio mechanical structure that is pretty easy to understand. It’s job is two fold.

  1. It is the backbone of the entire skeleton. The skull which is the vault protecting the brain sits on top of it. The arms indirectly attach to it via the clavicle and scapula and the legs support it from below by means of the connection with the two large hip bones that directly join the base of the entire spine called the sacrum.
  2. The spine has the all important job, like the skull, of protecting the vital nerves, especially those leaving the brain and traveling down inside the vertebra on their way to communicate with every cell and fiber of our being. In effect it acts like an electrical conduit covering the ‘wires’. However, in order for us to be able to bend, move and twist this ‘conduit’ was broken up into 24 pieces, called vertebra, with complex joints.

When you say I threw my back out how do I fix it, this implies that you’ve overstressed one or several of those spinal joints and traumatized the very nerves it’s designed to protect. These nerves are so all important to the proper functioning of the body and at the same time so vulnerable to insult that the violent pain signal the body sends you is designed to communicate just that fact. Of course there are ligaments that hold the bones together and muscles whose job it is to move the spine that are also affected when traumatized.

So, the first course of action is traditional first aid. Within the first 48 hours apply ice to the injured area 15-20 minutes each hour as needed. Lay on a firm surface assuming whatever posture provides the least pain. Oftentimes laying on your back either with a pillow under the knees or with your legs up on a chair is best. Since there are possible spasms with the pain try to concentrate on relaxing.

The ice will help control the back pain and diminish the spasms. Since the diaphragm, your breathing muscle, is attached to the lower spine make sure to take deep breaths. This will help you relax while gently stretching the entire back area.

Once the back pain has subsided enough try pulling one knee up to the chest while lying on your back and then the other. Make slow movements and repeat several times stretching to your comfort level each time.

Although bed rest is usually preferred initially to relieve the vertical pressure on the spine, the sooner you are able to get up and cautiously move around, walk and stretch the sooner you’ll recover and then know the answer to the question, I threw my back out, how do I fix it? If the problem persists you might need to visit a chiropractor, masseuse or physical therapist for further help.

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