Did you know that about 2.7 million people will visit an accident and emergency department each year after having an accident in their own home? Although we usually feel safe at home, it is one of the most common locations for an accident to occur.
But what should you do if you fall and suffer a minor injury that doesn’t warrant a trip to the A&E department?.
In this guide, our Ealing chiropractor shares some of the best home remedies for back injuries.
Deciding If A Back Injury Is Serious
It is important that you assess the severity of your back injury before deciding if home care is appropriate. There are several warning signs which indicate you should visit an emergency department immediately. They include:
- Sharp or severe pain
If the pain you are experiencing is sharp or severe, it may indicate severe trauma, like a broken bone, torn muscle, or damaged ligament.
- Radiating pain that shoots along your limbs
If your pain seems to radiate from your back to other parts of your body, it is a sign of possible nerve damage and you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
- Numbness, pins and needles, or weakness in the legs
These symptoms can all indicate that an injury has affected one of the nerves in your back.
- Movement has been severely impacted
Struggling to stand up or move about after a fall is typically a sign that a trip to the emergency department is warranted.
Incontinence after a back injury is a sign of nerve damage.
- Changes to your consciousness
If you hit your head during the fall and are suffering a headache, head pain, or changes to your consciousness, see a doctor as soon as possible.
When accompanied by fever, back pain can be a sign of a more serious illness or infection.
- The fall was severe
In most cases, there is less risk of injury when you fall in your lounge room, compared to falling from your roof. If the fall was over a larger distance, it is usually worth visiting the emergency department to get checked out.
- Something doesn’t ‘feel right’
It’s always best to trust your instincts when it comes to your health. If you have a feeling that something is wrong with your body after a fall, visit a hospital.
Treating Your Back Injury At Home
If you decide that your back injury isn’t severe enough to warrant a trip to a hospital or other medical professional such as a chiropractor, you can start treatment at home. Here are some of the best strategies for doing so:
Cold and hot therapy
Shortly after suffering an injury, place an ice pack wrapped in a towel on the affected area. This will constrict the blood vessels in the back and decrease circulation, which will reduce your pain and inflammation levels. Ice for up to 20 minutes at a time.
After 48 to 72 hours, if your inflammation has subsided, you can start using hot therapy. Place a heating pad, hot water bottle, or cloth bag of heated uncooked rice on the injured area. It will encourage more blood flow to the region, which improves the healing process, assist in the removal of waste, and loosen stiff muscles.
When using hot therapy, avoid placing objects on your skin that are excessively hot. This article has some useful information on using hot and cold therapy. It also explains how to alternate between the two techniques.
Perform some gentle stretches
Stretching your muscles is a fantastic way to maintain flexibility and soothe any muscular tension relating to your injury. When performing these stretches, avoid rushing and be gentle. If you feel any severe pain, stop immediately.
Use over the counter painkillers
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are very useful for treating pain and inflammation. Look for products containing ibuprofen, diclofenac, celecoxib, naproxen, mefenamic acid, etoricoxib, or indomethacin.
Be aware that these medications are not suitable for everyone and there may be side effects. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor to check if you can safely take NSAIDs.
It can be difficult to stay active when you are dealing from a painful back injury. However, in most cases, low impact exercise will help you recover much faster from your injury and will even reduce your pain levels.
Exercise helps by encouraging blood flow to the injured parts of your back. This can hasten the healing process, loosen stiff muscles, reduce inflammation, and help the body remove waste. The rush of endorphins that you experience after a workout will also reduce the perceived severity of your pain.
Start with some a low impact form of exercise, like walking, swimming, stretching, or yoga. When you begin to feel better, add some strength training or body weight exercises to strengthen your back muscles.
Arnica is a herb which can be useful for treating muscle pain and bruising. Arnica is available as a cream or gel which is applied to the skin several times a day.
Seek Out Chiropractic Care
If your injury hasn’t resolved itself after several days or you are experiencing impaired mobility, you may wish to visit a chiropractor. Chiropractic has been found to be effective in the treatment of back pain. Medical research and scientific evidence has shown that spinal manipulation can help back pain. Unlike painkillers, chiropractic treats the cause of pain and not just the pain itself.
Visiting our Chiropractic Clinic in Ealing
When you visit our clinic, The Spine & Joint Center, your chiropractor will start by asking you questions about your pain, medical history and lifestyle. In order to discover the cause of your pain and to offer a diagnosis, your chiropractor will carry out a full and thorough examination
If treatment is indicated, your chiropractor will begin your treatment often with gentle, specific adjustments (the chiropractic word for manipulation). These manual adjustments are done to free stiff joints and remove spinal nerve irritation. This effective drug- free treatment is generally painless.
Following your treatment your Chiropractor may recommend some things you can do to help your condition. These may include ice or heat treatment, specific exercises and lifestyle changes.