Back Pain – 10 Tips For Coping When Your Back Just ‘Goes’!

Back pain how to cope

Is backpain a compound word? I know backache is, like toothache, but do I have to say back pain? I just want to know if I can have it as my word of the week?! Back pain has certainly dominated my week!

I’m no stranger to back pain. I have a slipped disc and a whole lot of other strange things going on which add up to something loosely termed ‘Bertolotti Syndrome’ – S.I. joints, facet joints, joints that shouldn’t even be there articulating with bits that shouldn’t articulate, sciatic pain…you get the picture! But that’s not what this is about. This is a whole different ball game!

Last week I was carefully kneeling on the floor sorting bedding and stuffing it into a bag in front of me. Not bending over from a height or anything naughty like that, you understand. But suddenly…CRUNCH…or maybe SNAP…or possibly CRACK…well you get the picture. Something had just ‘gone’ in my back. Something excruciatingly painful. I cried out, called for help, and collapsed on the floor. And that was it.

So here’s my advice on what to do when you have an acute back pain episode. Not expert advice, just borne of experience. We’re talking about sudden, severe back pain here, rather than any long-term conditions.

  1. Get yourself somewhere where the pain is at least more bearable and you can be made more comfortable – preferably a bed, sofa etc. Take it slowly and lean on someone/something for support. Once there, use cushions or pillows to achieve the best position.

    In bed with back pain
    Lie down somewhere comfortable
  2. Get some pain relief as soon as possible. As much as possible. No prizes for being a martyr here. The more pain you are in, the quicker your muscles will go into spasm and make it ten times worse, so take whatever you can.
  3. Breathe! This sounds obvious, but severe pain tends to make us hold our breath, when actually breathing quite deeply will help your muscles to relax and increase the oxygen supply to them.
  4. Take anti-inflammatories if you can tolerate them, and preferably not on an empty stomach. Ibuprofen in the most basic of these, but if you are prescribed any NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), take them. Make sure you are not overdosing with any other medication you take. If in doubt, check with a pharmacist.

    Take medication as advised
    Take medication as advised
  5. Use some form of external heat or cold pack treatment. Opinion varies on this, some people say not to use heat, others disagree. Some advice also recommends alternating between the two. Whichever you use, do not apply it directly to the skin, but wrap it in something first. This time, I used an ice pack, one of those blue freezer packs you put in a picnic or lunch box, wrapped in a tea towel. Change it regularly. I have to say this is the best thing I did. It reduced swelling and made me quite numb so helped with pain too.
  6. Apply an external balm such as Ibuprofen gel etc., bearing in mind when you last took any oral ibuprofen and again reading the instructions to ensure you don’t overdose.
  7. Rest up as much as possible. Again no medals for bravery will be awarded. Doing too much too soon will set you back possibly several days.
  8. When you do move around, do it slowly and carefully, and with support initially, in order to not jerk anything or make the pain worse.
  9. Once you can manage to move around, then do so. Being still during the acute phase is fine, but moving around as soon as you can is also good as it keeps your circulation flowing and thus prevents blood clots, and also keeps your muscles working.
  10. If the pain does not ease at all, or worsens, or you develop severe bruising or other symptoms, always consult a medical professional. These are general tips and advice, and are not in any way meant to replace the opinion of an expert.

If you need further advice, see the NHS website, especially the section about back pain.

As for me, I spent some time in bed, then slowly recovered. I’m really bad at taking my own advice, so by day 3 I went on a family day trip and did a bit of walking, which was stupid, as I ended up in severe pain again! I’ve now learned my lesson and am going as slowly as my patience will allow! At least it has given me some time to catch up with a bit of blogging!

Resting in bed with back pain
Resting in bed

To all those who have back pain, acute or longer term chronic pain, you have my sincere sympathy. Take it easy and be kind to yourself, you don’t want to end up with longer term damage. It is frustrating, for you and for the people you live with, but take as much advice and as much help as you can get.

Wishing you all better soon!

Would you like to Pin these tips for later?

Back pain 10 tips for coping
Coping with acute back pain

The Reading Residence
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking SundayLife of My Family & Me
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52 Replies to “Back Pain – 10 Tips For Coping When Your Back Just ‘Goes’!”

  1. This is great advice, I had better bookmark it since the Hubster has a tendency to hurt himself while completing projects. He’s a bit like Tim Taylor from Home Improvement. #weekendblogshare

    1. Well, not glad that he is prone to injury, but glad to be of some help! Thanks for your comment x

  2. Oh no, sounds awful. I’ve not really suffered up until now, though I’ve no doubt my time will come one day! Hope you’re still resting up, do take it easy. Thanks for sharing with #WotW
    The Reading Residence recently posted…Word of the Week 5/8/16My Profile

    1. Thank you Jocelyn, I’m not great at resting as there’s always so much to do, but I’m trying!

  3. Great advice. I am always having problems with my back and it almost always starts with something seemingly innocuous, like opening the dishwasher, shaking out the washing before hanging, turning, stepping off a curb too hard, nothing particularly strenuous. Taking anti-inflammatories as soon as possible (I have a bad tendency to think it will pass soon enough only to be in crippling pain two hours later!) and moving around as soon as you are able are my favourite bits of advise. Rest is essential at the start but too much always makes me worse, slow and steady is the key.

    1. Oh I’m so glad you found some of the advice useful. You obviously have a weakness there if you keep hurting yourself doing something simple, so I hope some of these tips help x Take care of yourself!

  4. I always find heat packs helpful, probably more so than pain relief – though maybe it the combination that works well! Thanks for sharing these tips. #thelist

    1. Thanks for your comment. I’ve always used heat, but this time went for cold, and it really helped. Maybe it was the more acute injury?

  5. I was sat sorting baby clothes when my back just went whilst I was having William. I m so sorry you are not well again. Hope you are better soon. Xx

    1. Thanks Carianne. Funny how it just ‘goes’ sometimes, isn’t it? I think once you have a weakness you’re just prone to it. Hope you aren’t troubled as much since your surgery?

  6. Ouch that sounds really painful, I gave had back pain from the top bit becuase I carried something ridiculously heavy and the pain was horrific. It lasted about a month and I found heat packs really help for to ease some of the pain. Hope you get plenty of rest and feel better soon X #wotw
    Mummy here and there recently posted…PokemonMy Profile

    1. Thanks Sam, I’ve once again overdone things today, but hopefully can rest up again tomorrow xx

  7. I love that dog photo!

    I usually have back pain from carrying my son who is more than half of me now. I put a salonpas (like a heated plaster) and it feels better the next day. I notice lately that I am having a lot of back pain so is it safe to say that I am getting old? #wotw
    Merlinda Little (Glimmer of Hope) recently posted…Weston Super WindyMy Profile

    1. Haha not getting old, just carrying a lot! Like you said, your son is getting bigger, and yur body is bound to notice how much extra you’re having to carry. Glad you found some relief from the heat plaster, I quite like them too – like a long slow release of warmth which is very comforting x

  8. Thankfully, I’ve never suffered with anything more than a bit of sciatica but I do feel for you. The good thing is, I believe, that it can go as quickly as it comes on. Get well soon in any case. #wotw
    Carol Cameleon recently posted…Time for some happy in my #HighlightsofHappy #5My Profile

    1. Thank you Carol. Sciatica is bad enough for you to have suffered with!

  9. Some great advice, you don’t realise how much you rely on your back until you hurt it. Wishing you a speedy recovery. #WotW

    1. Thank you Angela, I’m managing much better now x

  10. I have a prolapsed disk at T2 which is in my neck, agony but massage and chiropractic seem to help!

    1. Oh not good! Mine’s at L4/5 xx

  11. Ouch – hope you’re on the mend. I think part of it is knowing you have to stop and stay stopped for a while. #wotw
    Stephanie Robinson recently posted…My week this week: WheelsMy Profile

    1. That’s true, I’m not very good at that part!

  12. Really great advice for helping with back pain. So hard to deal with. Thank you for sharing #KCACOLS
    Jen recently posted…Homeschool Supply List for the Working MomMy Profile

    1. Thanks Jen, hope it comes in handy x

    2. Hope the advice helps (if needed) xx

  13. Mindful Mummy Mission says: Reply

    Definitely 3, 5 and 7. Some good advice here. Thanks for sharing. Hope you’re fully recovered now. #eatsleepblogRT

    1. Thank you so much xx

  14. I’ve been lucky so far, and my back has never ‘gone’ *touches wood*, but I found this post really interesting. I love your advice to take painkillers as soon as you can, because I think a lot of people would try to ‘be brave’ and not take anything, without being aware of the fact that doing that might make your muscles tense up even more and make things worse. x #KCACOLS
    Madeline (This Glorious Life) recently posted…How to talk to your children about their artMy Profile

    1. Thanks Madeline, and *touch wood* you never need to use the advice, but thanks for reading anyway!

  15. These are great tips! I have a lot of upper back pain, especially from being at work (nurse here). I know I should be strengthening and going to a chiropractor, but who has time for that as a working mom?! Lol!
    Tori @ The Mama Nurse

    1. Thanks Tori, nursing really takes its toll on your back I’m sure, no matter how many ‘lifting and handling’ courses you go on! (ex-Radiogrpher here!). Take care of it as much as you can xx

  16. Fortunately, this isn’t something I have suffered with yet but I know so many people do don’t they. It must be awful especially with little ones running around! I’m sure these tips will be really helpful so thanks for linking up with #fortheloveofBLOG x
    A Mum Track Mind recently posted…Grow Your Instagram Account With A Mum Track MindMy Profile

    1. You are very lucky, and I hope it never troubles you. it’s surprising how many people do suffer with back pain though, even just from comments on this post I’ve realised there are loads! (But glad it’s not you x )

  17. Back pain can be so dibilitating. I remember my dad coming home from work and lying on the sitting room floor just to relieve some of the pain #KCACOLS
    Geraldine recently posted…Blogging Best #5My Profile

    1. Oh that sounds terrible! Yes it certainly can be debilitating indeed.

  18. Great tips – everyone seems to think that not taking pain killers makes you special in some way. I say take what you need and be done with it! #KCACOLS
    OddHogg recently posted…Sleepytot BunnyMy Profile

    1. Absolutely, makes more sense! Thanks for reading x

  19. Such a useful post – my back recently went into spasm and it was so painful! Thanks for linking up to #KCACOLS hope you come back again next Sunday! x
    Bridie By The Sea recently posted…In The Kitchen :: Chocolate BrowniesMy Profile

    1. Oh I wish I’d written it sooner for you then! Hope it’s better now x

  20. Rachel (Lifeofmyfamilyandme) says: Reply

    Back pain is just horrendous! I suffer regularly with my back and often have to sit out on physical activities because i don’t trust my back! Very good tips to keep the pain to a minimum and for a hopeful quick recovery. #EatSleepBlogRt

    1. Sorry to hear that you often suffer, but hope some of these tips help in future x

  21. Ahhh these are excellent tips. I don’t suffer from back pain very often but my husband does and I know he uses some of these but others here could be useful! Thanks for sharing 🙂 #KCACOLS

    1. Oh good, I hope they do prove helpful if/when the time comes (hoping it doesn’t, of course!)

  22. Petite Pudding says: Reply

    Oh there is nothing worse than back pain – I have a pretty constant pain in my back but every now and again it ramps up to the point of no return and I am left lying on a hard floor somewhere. Some great tips here to help people back onto their feet #EatSleepBlogRT
    Petite Pudding recently posted…Time Management Strategies for Being a More Efficient MomMy Profile

    1. Backs are tricky things aren’t they – giving up on us when we least expect (or need)it! Good luck with yours x

  23. Ive had back problems for years ( not helped now by a toddler) but my husband has slipped a disc so badly he has to have an operation so i have seriously been picking up the slack at home and im really noticing it now. Great tips! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday

    1. Oh no, what a nightmare for both of you! Hope you’re both better soon x

  24. This is some AWESOME advice!! I’ve been fighting through some frequent back pain lately, and it is awful. …it may have something to do with lifting and lugging around at 25 lb toddler HA! But, I’ve seriously been considering seeing a chiropractor, as I’ve heard they can help! Ibuprofen is definitely my go-to!! Thanks so much for sharing (:
    Savannah recently posted…Why You Won’t Find Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) in my HouseMy Profile

    1. Oh Savannah, I really feel for you. I do hope some of these tips hep you, if not, a chiropractor might be a good option, or an osteopath. Good luck!

  25. Jerry E. Lindsay says: Reply

    Great tips! By following these tips, we can get a big relief from the severe back pain.
    Acupuncture is also considered beneficial in treating such conditions such as lower back pain, sciatica, stiffness, and strains. Acupuncture stimulation produces signals that relax the sympathetic nervous system and release natural opioids which provide back pain relief.

    Thank you for sharing these amazing tips.

  26. Suzi Canfield says: Reply

    Hi. I have also suffered from Bertolotti’s Syndrome since I was 16 years old. There is so little information about it and not all doctors seem to know about it. I have had steroid injections in the past – one of which kept me free from flare-ups for 2 years between 2010 and 12, but the others didn’t seem to work. All my consultant can offer me now if fusion, which scares me, as I’ve heard horror stories about it. I suffer flare ups several times a month now and have to be careful all the time. Even stretching in bed may make it ‘go’. Most information on the web seemed to be from America, so I set up a UK Facebook group called ‘UK Sufferers of Bertolotti’s Syndrome’ and, at the time of writing, have 34 members. It’s a great source of support and advice. Thank you for your post. I have just bought a belt for support too and use Biofreeze and take Ibuprofen and Co-codamol when I have a flare up. I try to remain positive, but it’s hard.

    1. Familymakes says: Reply

      Thanks Suzi, I’m a mamber of the US Facebook, will look yours up too. The most I’ve had from injections is 6 weeks’ relief sadly. I’ve now had attempts at radiofrequency ablation too, but they also failed.

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