The back is one of the more common areas for injury with auto accidents and across the U.S. acute lower back pain is the fifth highest cause for doctor visits, according to American Family Physician, a peer-reviewed journal. Treating back pain can be tough.
The main goal, after having a full physical examination through your primary care physician, is reducing the pain as soon as possible. A lot can also be achieved through self-care. Here are some tips to see you through:
Cold and heat treatment. Doctors recommend heat therapy for back spasms. Patients find moist heat therapy such as Whirlpool or baths offer some relief. Heat wraps offer continual relief for up to six hours. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NINDS, suggests cold compress applications are also helpful for reducing spasms and inflammation. You can use a bag of ice or bag of frozen vegetables. Apply to the area several times per day for 20 minutes and rest. Alternating from heat to cold treatments for three days after a back injury is best. If you find no relief after three days of self-care, certainly return to your doctor for added care.
Don’t overdo the bed rest. While one to two days of bed rest helps back pain from an auto accident, NINDS warns too much rest can have the opposite effect. Becoming mobile as soon as possible after a back injury, with moderate activity, will help gain flexibility back sooner.
Massage therapy. Massage therapy from an experienced massage therapist specializing in accident relief can offer temporary relief also. Acupuncture can be excellent for back pain after an auto accident however, ensure you research well which acupuncture to go to. Try getting a referral from someone within your community or check with Angie’s List.
Medications. You’re probably going to need medication, both over-the-counter (such as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin) and prescription drugs, to help manage your back pain but beware that using medication to treat back pain is controversial. Also please consult with your doctor before using any medication, particularly when pregnant or suffering from other health problems.
Some say muscle relaxants offer short-term relief for acute back pain resulting from an auto accident. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are shown to be effective also but come with warnings and risks you must discuss with your doctor.
Chiropractic help. Manipulation through a chiropractor can also be beneficial, but carefully research which chiropractor to go to, preferably looking for a referral from your primary care physician, a friend or family member. Physical therapy will also help gain mobility back. Ask your doctor for a referral to a specialist or look on Angie’s List for a good recommendation in your area.
Surgeries. When all else fails, your doctor may suggest back surgery. The major back surgeries include: disectomies, spinal fusions, laminectomies and vertebroplasties – but experts say this must be the last resort because of the invasiveness of the procedures.