A quick question for you: Have you ever sprained your ankle slightly? Maybe you rolled it when out walking one day – a really common injury. How long did it take to get better?
Now, have you ever “tweaked” or “pulled” something in your back? How long did THAT take to get better?
My money is on the back problem sticking around for FAR longer than the ankle problem ever did. And sadly, I hear this story all the time. Someone pulls their back one day, and thinks it will go away on its own just like an ankle problem or calf strain did a few years ago.
But it doesn’t. And not only does it not go away, it actually feels like it’s getting worse.
So why is that?
I want to talk to you today about why back trouble lasts so long – and what you can do to help it go away faster!
The first thing to realise if you are currently suffering from a persistent back problem is: you are not alone! In fact, back problems go on for longer than they should for most people. The truth is, most aren’t aware of the right way to go about relieving back pain and they let it get so bad that they are struggling to walk, work or spend time with their friends by the time they ask for some help!
The second thing to realise is that back pain can sometimes be a bit of a mystery. Let me explain…
When you sprain your ankle, the reason you get pain is because you have damaged a ligament by “rolling” your foot too far in one direction. That’s why you get pain, swelling and difficulty walking. As the ligament heals, your pain gets better, the swelling goes away and you are able to walk around again as you always could.
However, when someone develops back pain, it often isn’t because they’ve damaged anything within their back. It is entirely possible to have back pain WITHOUT spraining a ligament, pulling a muscle or getting a trapped nerve. And no, it’s not “all in someone’s head” when they get pain like this. We can see on fancy brain scans that their pain is very real, yet we don’t always know the cause behind it.
This kind of back pain is notoriously difficult to shift for the layperson.
If this sounds like you, you’ve probably already tried putting ice or heat on your back. Maybe you tried a bit of massage which loosened it up for a bit, but then it came back?
If you have tried these things and they didn’t work, the positive side is at least you are closer to finding something that DOES work, since you have ruled out some of the things that don’t help.
Below are some of the top reasons back trouble lasts way longer than it should:
#1 – Chronic tension from tight muscles
If you develop back pain for whatever reason, your body’s natural response is to “tighten up” the muscles in that area in order to restrict movement and allow healing.
However, sometimes the body can get “confused” and keep the muscles tight even when there’s no real underlying injury.
The very fact that the muscles feel tight, stiff and tense leads to pain in the back. So people end up with back pain from the very tactics that their body is using to protect them!
Luckily, hands-on techniques and targeted exercises are extremely effective at relieving this type of problem. A specialised physiotherapist should be able to help you with this issue pretty quickly!
#2 – Hoping it will go away on its own
Most people we see who have back pain get both good and bad days.
On the bad days, they worry relentlessly about their back – thinking it’s getting worse and wondering what they can do to help it.
And on the good days, they feel more relaxed – it feels like the problem is going away. Maybe it will just continue to get better and better until it’s gone…?
However, this rarely happens. When you are suffering from good and bad days, it’s the sign that something isn’t quite right, maybe in the way that you are moving or the fact that certain joints and muscles are “locking up”. When you suffer from good and bad days, you’re in an ideal position to get some help, before the good days turn bad and the bad days get worse!
#3 – Doing the wrong exercises
Did you go to your GP about your back pain, only to be given a sheet of generic exercises?
Sure, these exercises may work for a few people – but the majority need individualised, targeted exercises designed for THEIR specific problem.
It’s not your GP’s fault either; they aren’t “back pain specialists” and they have to give those sheets out as a “first line” treatment. And they do help some people – but if you’ve given them a go and they aren’t working, you need something different.
Again, this is a good thing – because you now know exactly what exercises DON’T work for you, you’re closer to finding the right ones!
We see the same problem with people who go onto YouTube and find some back pain relief exercises. Unfortunately, this can be a minefield. Pick the wrong ones and you can make your problem worse.
#4 – Putting off making a decision
It’s human nature to put off making a decision until we absolutely have to; we all do it!
However, can you remember a time when you left something important, thinking it would be OK… and all that happened was it got worse?
This happens to a lot of people who have back pain. They think “I’ll book that appointment when I get some time next week”. But they never get round to it, and before they know it, their problem has got much worse.
Can you relate?
If you ask any doctor or physio, we always prefer someone to come and see us sooner rather than later, when the problem is FAR easier, quicker and cheaper to fix!
#5 – Choosing pain killers over a long-term solution
Most of the people we help hate painkillers. However, it’s incredibly easy to take another painkiller and hope the problem goes away rather than take more specific action to fix it over the long-term.
The problem is, the drug companies are so good at marketing their pain pills as “back pain cures” that people end up getting “hooked” on these painkillers. They end up taking the maximum allowed dose for far longer than they should. This often has incredibly harmful “silent” effects on their body and is entirely preventable.
These 5 reasons are probably the most common reasons we hear from our clients about why their back pain is still going on after 6 months, a year, even 5 years sometimes.
To prevent this from happening, making a decision to get the problem sorted starting today is the best gift you can possibly give yourself!
To start off, why not take our free guide detailing our best “9 Expert Tips to Stop Back Pain that Causes Stiffness and Prevents You from Doing the Things You Love” today? It’s completely free, we just take an email address (and optional telephone number) so we can send it over to you.
If you would like some more tailored advice for your back, please feel free to schedule a free telephone consultation with a back pain specialist here at HT Physio.
We are always happy to help people who are proactive in wanting to get their problem sorted!