Acute Back Pain

What is Acute Back Pain?

Acute back pain is a term given to back pain which has only been bothering a person for a few weeks, specifically under 6 weeks.  It does not mean that this type of back pain is more or less severe than chronic back pain, although acute back pain is usually sharper because of the inflammation and muscle spasm which is often occurring. Chiropractors often see patients with acute back pain and see great results.

relief chiropractic health clinic in Cambridge - Chronic back pain

Causes of Acute Back Pain

Acute back pain only refers to the length of the pain.  For this reason, it may be caused by almost any condition.  However, chiropractors commonly see people with a physical contributor to their pain, which includes:

  • Poor posture: especially whilst seated.
  • Bad exercising: using sloppy form or rushing a movement.
  • Lifting/bending: even for something as small as a piece of paper!
  • Asymmetrical lifestyle: e.g. always twisting to see the TV in one corner.
  • Job factors: Manual labour in particular.
  • Trauma: direct damage to the area because of a fall or accident.
  • Stress: Work and life stress can massively impact physical conditions.
  • Underlying health: Other problems can manifest as back pain e.g. kidneys.

Although we listed all of the above as ’causes’ of back pain, these factors usually add together until your body has had enough and decides to protect itself from harm.  Ultimately, muscle spasm, inflammation, pain and stiffness are symptoms of your body protecting itself. If your chiropractor suspects that you have an underlying health problem  or it was because of trauma you may be referred to your GP or a specialist to rule out other causes of your back pain. This obviously depends on the nature of the injury and your presentation.

Do I Need Acute Back Pain Treatment?

Sometimes, acute back pain resolves on it’s own.  However, there is always a reason for acute back pain.  Often a patient may be able to explain away their episode, saying ‘it’s only muscular’.  Whilst this can be true there isn’t really any way to know this unless you consult an expert.  If it’s your first time experiencing the pain, you will often ‘get away with it’, and it will go away on it’s own. But recurring pains of a similar type over a number of months or years are definitely not normal, and are a sign you could benefit from a consultation with a chiropractor.

If however, you got acute back pain without knowing the cause, or because ‘you simply bent over for a piece of paper’ then it’s fair to say that you should probably have your Cambridge chiropractor or other primary healthcare worker check you out sooner rather than later.  After all, it’s not normal to have back pain just because you bent over for a piece of paper!  This is particularly true if you have had the back pain for more than a few weeks, because studies (and experience) have shown us that back pain responds quickly to treatment when in the acute (under 6 weeks) or sub-acute (under 12 weeks) stages and takes much longer when a patient has chronic back pain.

Are There Any Exercises I Can Do?

Generally, a person should avoid strenuous exercises and take things easy when they have acute back pain.  This means avoiding twisting, lifting and bending wherever possible.  However, one of the mistakes some people make is taking time off work completely or staying in bed.  This only tends to make you feel worse, and then when you do try to get up, your muscles go into spasm.  Instead, try to imagine you have a really bad cold; take things easy, but still try to go about your day as normally as possible.  Once your acute back pain treatment is starting to make you feel better, a program of isometric exercises, stretching and strengthening can be really helpful.  As always, consult with your chiropractor or doctor before starting such a program.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Acute back pain is one of the most common things seen by a chiropractor; back pain of less than 6 weeks duration.  The earlier you are seen by someone, the quicker your recovery is likely to be.  This may involve simply taking it easy, or it may involve chiropractic adjustments and exercises specifically for your problem.  Fortunately, chiropractic care is a very effective method of treating the real causes behind acute low back pain.

Still unsure about a visit to a Cambridge Chiropractor?

If you live near Cambridge and have pain or other symptoms, or if you want to improve the function of your body, chiropractic is a safe and very effective solution.  If you are unsure whether chiropractic care is right for you, then you should consider booking either a consultation or a FREE telephone call with our principal chiropractor. During this time, the process of chiropractic care will be explained fully.  There is no obligation to continue with the visits.

To book, please call 01223 459240, book online or contact us.

Acute Back Pain FAQs

How long does acute back pain last?

Acute back pain typically lasts for a few days to a few weeks. In most cases, it improves on its own with self-care measures such as gentle stretching (if advised). Because acute back pain is not normal, and often has an underlying cause, we advise being seen as soon as possible by your chiropractor to assess your spinal health. Certainly, if pain persists for more than 6 weeks, it’s advisable to consult us for further evaluation and treatment.

How can I relieve acute lower back pain?

There are ways in which you can help to relieve acute lower back pain, however it’s advisable to speak to a chiropractor in the first instance for an accurate treatment plan for your needs. Some ways you can relieve your pain include maintaining good posture, gentle stretching (if advised), consulting a chiropractor, and considering getting a massage to help relieve any tension.

What causes acute back pain?

Acute back pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including muscle strains or sprains, bad exercise, fractures, or even poor posture. It can also be triggered by lifting heavy objects, sudden movements, or underlying health conditions. Often, when we examine a patient, we find an underlying weakness or old injury which becomes an epicentre of pain – like the weakest link in a chain. It’s important to identify and rehabilitate this wherever possible.

What does acute back pain mean?

It refers to a sudden, sharp pain in the back that typically lasts for a short period of time, usually no more than 6 weeks. Acute back pain is common and can range from mild discomfort to severe pain. Although the pain may go away, it’s important that you fully rehabilitate the area to assess the spinal health and also to avoid recurring injury to those structures.