I’m going to pose a question here, although I already know the answer. Who here scraped their knee after falling on the ground? Anybody take a corner too sharp while carrying furniture and nicked their hand as they passed? Or, how about has anybody just given themselves a paper cut after grabbing a piece of paper too quickly?
Likely, you have fallen victim to one of these accidents and have reached for a band-aid to cover it and stop the bleeding.
What happens if we cut ourselves more seriously?
Have any of you accidentally cut yourself with a knife while cooking? Or maybe stepped on a rusty nail?
I bet you didn’t just place a band-aid on those wounds. I’m sure you thoroughly cleaned it out to reduce the risk of infection, maybe got stitches, and ultimately cared for the wound with new bandages as needed until it completely healed. These steps are necessary to make sure you completely take care of the issue.
One thing I hear all of the time from friends, family, and patients is that they just want to let their back ‘heal’ on its’ own. Or, they think, one day they will wake up and have no back pain. Most people think that they can just ignore the pain and it will just go away. That is flawed thinking my friends. Back pain can not, and should not, be treated with a band-aid fix.
Covering up the pain by just ignoring it, taking pain medications or anti-inflammatories, continuing to have to use heat/ice, etc. could make it worse (i.e. putting a band-aid on it)!
Why don’t these solutions work? Because it is not getting down to the root cause of the pain.
Continuing to use the band-aid method for back pain is what can turn one small, simple episode of back pain into a chronic back pain issue.
So why do people ignore the pain and use these band-aid methods when self-treating back pain? In my experience, there are many reasons. One reason I wanted to touch on in this blog is the convenience factor.
Taking a pain pill (which is likely found in your medicine cabinet) is easier than learning proper movements and doing things to help facilitate the healing process in a more natural way. What most people don’t realize is that the pain pills help mask the pain. Meaning, the tissue that may have some trauma to it is not healed and yet you don’t feel the pain, which means you can make it do things it may not be ready to do.
The question you should be asking yourself now is: “If not pain pills, cold/hot packs, or just rest, then what?”. The single, most effective, way of recovering from an episode of back pain is by visiting a highly qualified physical therapist. A good physical therapist will advise you on where your pain is coming from, how to best put your body in position for healing, assist with hands-on techniques as needed, instruct you on ways to continue healing outside of the clinic, and be available for any questions or concerns that may arise.
Feel free to apply for a free consult to ensure your pain is something a physical therapist can address.
Keep in mind, the most important thing you can take away from this blog is that an episode of back pain is not a band-aid.
Until next time,
Steven Alexander PT, DPT, Cert DN