Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Treating Back Pain: To Ice or Not Ice?

Despite my penchant for tween things, I'm kind of an old soul trapped in an 80-year old's body. Back when I was a teen, we were moving houses, and even though I had hardly lifted a heavy box, I somehow threw my back out. It was like the worst pain ever: me crumpled over unable to straighten up, for like 3 days. My parents actually didn't believe that I had thrown my back out (what 16 year old does that anyway??), and I totally didn't want to go to a hospital, so I kinda rode out the pain bedridden for a couple of days. Well well. My back hasn't been the same since, and though it doesn't bother me most of the time, there are certain periods when the pain comes back to haunt me.

Which brings us to 2.5 weeks ago, when I almost fell on a slippery spot. I was so proud of myself because all of my reflexes kicked in and I totally saved myself from completely wiping out. But in the process, I pulled something because I've been in pain ever since. I've been seeing a chiropractor, I just saw a physical therapist, and before you tell me I should be seeing a doctor, PEOPLE, baby steps! I usually take care of my body by pounding the Advil and drifting off to sleep for a couple of hours.

But I have some tips on how to handle back pain if you are ever experiencing it:

1) Ice ice baby. To ice or to heat? The answer is simple. Ice your injury/pain ASAP. Wrap frozen veggies, an ice pack, or ice cubes in ziploc bag in a towel and ice no more than 20 minutes at a time.

2) If the pain lasts for longer than 3 days, then heating is the way to go. Heating pads are more for a chronic pain, so ice first, then resort to heat. BTW, heating pads are awesome.

3) See someone. Don't be like me and hope to ride it out. I'm paying for it big time, 10 years later. Acupuncturist, chiropractor, physical therapist, doctor. Someone is better than no one.

4) Don't be afraid to take Advil/ibuprofen/Alleve/Tylenol. I went for days without taking anything, and today I finally popped 2 Advils and felt less pain. Just don't overdue it obviously. I don't want to be responsible for your addiction to painkillers.

5) Good posture helps. Stand straight, walk straight, sit straight (use one of those back support pillows for your chair), and lie down straight when going to sleep. It helps.


JeeHyun said...

I read this thing in Glamour about an exercise to improve posture. You stand in the doorway and with your arms in the 3 & 9 positions you lean forward. Repeat with arms in 10 & 2 positions. Was nice and stretchy before I slipped on my hardwood floors and almost fell on my face.