Self Help For Acute Back, Neck and Musculoskeletal Injuries

Self-Help For Acute Back Or Neck Pain

These instructions are meant to provide you with information in the unforeseen event you experience an acute injury or flare-up and are unable to reach our office such as on weekends, holidays or night.  Acute means “sudden or severe.”

Depending upon condition, severely acute flare-ups are uncommon, but do occasionally happen.

If they should, this will help you know what to do.

  • The use of ice is one of your best allies. Ice helps reduce swelling and inflammation, and acts as a topical anesthetic.  Apply it for periods of 10 – 15 minutes and remove.  You can detect if you have swelling by appearance, or by pushing into the area with your finger and noticing changes in tissue color.  Never apply ice directly over the skin as the skin can become irritated and suffer “freezer burn.”   Instead, apply ice over a layer of thin, wet paper towel or a most was cloth.  If you would rather use an ice pack but don’t have one, a bag of frozen peas easily mold around body surfaces.  Use ice as often as needed for pain and inflammation control.

  • Heat is not advisable for acute conditions as it adds increased temperature to an already inflamed area, and therefore leads to more swelling and pain.  Swelling is one of your body’s ways of immobilizing and injury in order to avoid further injury.  However, if you just can’t stay away from the the temporary relief that heat may bring, be certain to use moist heat such as a moist heating pad, hot tub or warm bath.  Never use dry heat such as a dry heating pad, and never sleep on a heating pad in an acute condition.  This can lead to even more extreme pain.  If you do use heat, follow it up with an ice pack for 10-15 minutes.  Alternating ice and heat does often flush swelling, though in general ice alone is still more advisable as it suppresses inflammation in acute condition.

  • Gently massage the muscles around the injury to bring about improved flexibility, but never force the area beyond its normal range of motion or into an area of increased pain as thismay cause further injury.  In acute injuries, muscles frequently splint to tighten up around the injury site, also another your body’s primary responses to help avoid further injury to the injury site.

  • Avoid heavy lifting and do not work around moving machinery, as the pain may cause you to become imbalanced with a resulting fall into the machinery.  Also avoid overhead work until your condition improves.  Allow others to drive you if you must be somewhere.  We will provide you with an excuse in the event an acute episode prevents you from safely partaking in your employment if we are unreachable, providing you are an active patient and contact us the first day back in the office.

  • Short, easy walks may help relax you. Discontinue if too painful.  Don’t walk on rough surfaces or uneven terrain.  Be sure to wear shoes with a secure grip to the surface, especially true during rain or winter months of snow and ice to best avoid a chance of a fall.

  • Avoid high heeled shoes. High heeled shoes change the natural arc of your back and neck and frequently increase pain.  Tennis shoes provide better shock absorption for the spine, provide more natural posture and give a more secure footing.

  • Clear your environment of anything that could cause you to slip or fall around the home, such as loose rugs, pets, or wet floors.  Be sure to keep your shoestrings tied to prevent stumbling.

  • When sitting, sit erect and keep yourself balanced. Otherwise lie down and take all the pressure off the injured area.  Avoid close work such as sewing, reading or paperwork that causes you to keep your head down and the muscles in your neck and back tense and painful.

  • Do not sleep on your stomach. Sleep on your back with your spine straight and pillows under your knees or on your side with your knees bent.  Your neck should be slightly curved with a small pillow under it, which also frequently helps with severe headaches.

  • Do not hold in a sneeze, as this creates extra pressure on the internally injured areas leading to more pain.

  • The use or non-use of pain medications, either over the counter or prescription, are at your own discretion.  In extreme circumstances, don’t be afraid to contact the emergency room immediately.  Contact us as soon as our office reopens.

In general, these procedures and advice will help see you through an acute injury or flare-up of an existing injury until you can contact us.

For more information about how chiropractic may be able to help you resolve your pain issues, please go to

About the author: Dr. Jack Adrian is a chiropractor with more than 30 years experience in the field of chiropractic.   He is a practicing physician and Director of ChiroCenter in Troy, Ohio and has served more than 25,000 individuals in his career.

For help with any additional questions or to set up a complimentary conference to discuss your concerns, feel free to call ChiroCenter in Troy, Ohio at 937-339-5556.

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