Back pain can be excruciating, debilitating, isolating
cause, stress, and lack of confidence, loss of independence
and often depression. The following symptoms are extremely
common, are not life threatening and if dealt with correctly
can be kept under control. (see Pain/Self Management)
Frequently heard complaints are:
LOWER BACK: – dull ache – excruciating makes
me feel sick – I’ve gone lop-sided – shooting
pains in my legs (usually targets one) – feel like
I’ ve been stabbed – every movement causes
so much pain if frightens me – it’s sitting,
it’s so painful - walking kills me, I can only take
tiny steps - If I move I’m sure my back will break – they
say it’s my back but my knees hurt – the whole
bottom of my back feels like a solid block – the
pain takes my breath away – my back feels really
sore - I can’t sleep because I can’t get comfortable
-Sciatica - the list is endless.
UPPER BACK: ( in addition to above) my shoulders and neck
ache – I get disabling headaches.
REMEMBER EARLY DIAGNOSIS = QUICKER RECOVERY
Flare ups can bring on panic, causing muscles to tighten
which in turn leads to increased tension. This will prolong
the flare-up. Worry and panic serve no useful purpose,
so first, calm down!
OK, the panic is over - what next? Try putting some ice
on the back by wrapping a gel pack or peas in a tea towel,
and placing it on your back. Remember the tea towel though,
to avoid ice burns. Do this for 10 minutes at a time, and
then do some gentle stretching.
Depending how far along you are in your recovery, cut
down all your exercises by half, and keep them at that
level for a couple of days - after that, start to gradually
build them up again .
Don't stop everything. That's the old way of dealing with
a flare-up. Just cut back on what you do - either by a
half or a third.
Relaxation is one of the best ways of getting over a flare-up.
Remember you don't have to lie down to put relaxation skills
into action. It is always a good idea to increase the amount
of relaxation when you are in a flare-up.
Make a plan of action for how you are going to get back
to your normal routine. Perhaps you could return to your
stretching and exercise. Think about what caused the flare-up.
Have you been doing too much? Could you have said "No!" to
Don't blame yourself, we are all learning, including all
those who have been on the Think Back Self Management Programme.
Please also be patient with yourself - would you scold
a child because they are not learning something fast enough?
Don't forget to reflect how you dealt with the flare-up
and reward yourself - or as I say "Don't forget to
buy yourself an ice cream from time to time." Learning
to manage pain can be made fun if you want it to be. Today
you are in charge of your pain - not the other way round!