Coping with acute back pain — Scope | Disability forum
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Coping with acute back pain

mstev2 Member Posts: 13 Listener
I am here under false pretences .  I have irregular  back pain rather than chronic. 
I am going through a flare up right now and am having trouble coping. I can't do anything without pain. 
Currently sitting in my lounge because I can't go to bed without pain. 
Have taken co-codamol and  diazepam to keep things calm but, not working fully. 
I have no idea how to deal with this pain. 
I don't know what drugs are likely ti be midt effective in bringing this under control. I am forbidden NSAIDS because of a previous bleed in the stomach. 
Any advice on control or drugs would be appreciated. 


  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Member, Community Co-Production Group Posts: 12,478 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @mstev2 - You are welcome to this community no matter what, so thank you for joining.
    I'm sorry to read about your acute back pain, & hope by now you have managed to get some rest, & may be feeling a little better.
    I hope you understand no-one here can give medical advice, so I hope you might get an appointment to see your GP to see if they may be able to look at other medication to better help, or suggest other alternatives to help you cope with your back pain.
  • mstev2
    mstev2 Member Posts: 13 Listener
    Thank you for your kind response.

    I am being treated by both a doctor and a chiropractor. The doctor has prescribed me with pain relief medication but that, along with the understanding that it will take between 2 - 6 weeks to improve, is about it. I am unable to take NSAIDS, so the most effective medications are denied me. I don't really want to escalate medication to morphine, and so am taking a fairly low level of medication.

    The Chiropractor says that the basic problem is one of two choices and that an MRI scan will allow him to confirm. As I have not reached the point where the NHS would consider an MRI scan appropriate, I am paying for a private one.

    I am not really seeking medical advice, I am looking for coping advice from people dealing with pain daily in person.

    It seems to me that I may be making my own problem worse because I dread walking as a misstep causes a sudden and very sharp flash of pain. This has lead to me "clenching" my whole body in preparation for the pain.

    My daughter says that I walk like Donald Duck with constipation.

    I came to this group as I suspect that it has members who have dealt with similar problems on a regular basis and may have developed coping strategies which worked for them.

    If anyone has ideas I would be glad to hear about them.

  • livefortoday1988
    livefortoday1988 Member Posts: 2 Listener
    Hello, have you tried a tens machine? 
  • mstev2
    mstev2 Member Posts: 13 Listener
    Not yet. 
    I would be interested in anyone's experience of them because is have seen both "rave"  reviews and "waste of money" reviews which leads me to suspect that there is a trick to using them. 
  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,545 Disability Gamechanger
    Welcome to the community @mstev2, I'm sorry to hear you are in pain, yours is just as valid. Have you seen a pain clinic recently? 

  • mstev2
    mstev2 Member Posts: 13 Listener
    Thank you Chloe - no I haven't been to a pain clinic.

    This appears to be a relapse from a problem which first happened in 2016. At that time I was given painkillers for immediate relief and then sent for physio - the standard approach even today. I chose to go to a Chiropractor who had been recommended to me, and the problem was first controlled and then receded into the distance.

    I probably let my guard drop, and it has bounced back. I'm very disappointed because I thought it was beaten.

    I feel like a fraud on this service.

  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Member, Community Co-Production Group Posts: 12,478 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi again, you might not agree with my advice as I'm a physio, but haven't worked as such for a very long time!! I also have battles with lower back pain.
    Firstly, posture is key in standing, walking, sitting, etc. In standing, imagine you have a piece of string on the top of your head at the back, straighten up as if this string is slowly pulling you up. Get used to how this feels first. When you walk (we must stop the Donald Duck bit!), walk slowly, but correctly; smaller steps if need be.
    Secondly, try & keep active. If you have been sitting (with correct posture) for more than 15 mins., just get up & walk around for a few minutes, before you sit back down.
    Next, very gentle exercise. In standing, with feet slightly apart, & with your hands by your side, try & slide first one hand & then other very gently down the outer side of your leg towards your knee. Don't push, just go as far as feels comfortable, no further, & perhaps just do this 3 times for each side. Do a little, but often, perhaps every hour or so.
    Pain, as you probably know, is a vicious cycle, which needs to be broken. Exercise that causes pain doesn't help.
    Coping strategies. Well as you've guessed exercise is at the top of my list. I also find that distraction helps (reading, listening to music, watching a film, etc). I also use relaxation techniques; visualizations (lying on a warm beach, gentle waves coming up the lower part of my body, then as they recede they are taking the pain away). As you will see, relaxation & visualizations can be used together. I do them lying down on my back. I also use mindfulness.
    Warmth is good, including a bath. There's also capsaicin cream, but I personally couldn't tolerate it. I couldn't get away with a tens machine either (I was lent one, then bought another....which was later passed on to someone else).
    I know some people who use Arnica hemp balm: 'Rose Geranium' & 'Sport' where the ones I've seen mentioned most. See:
    Some people find one thing or another helpful, but it's often a combination of things that may better help
    Hope some of the above may also help you.

  • zakblood
    zakblood Member Posts: 419 Pioneering
    must admit i agree with all above, 20 years with a bad back, now told bad posture, poor knee's, inflamed joints and muscle damage with increased sensitivity within the soft tissue, or so i'm told.

    heat works for me for knee's and most joints, but cold better for my back, no idea why, would be better if the same was true everywhere, but that's life.
  • mstev2
    mstev2 Member Posts: 13 Listener
    Thank you for your advice - I am sitting typing this doing a good impression of Donald Duck with a packet of frozen peas shoved down the back of my trousers,
  • Julessarahthompson
    Julessarahthompson Member Posts: 25 Connected
    I have to agree with the above, I suffer with chronic back pain caused through arthritis and keeping moving helps. When I'm laid up with it the pain worsens. Also hot baths help, when im at my worst I bath 3/4 times a day. Also pacing yourself helps, I used to find on good days I'd go all guns blazing at such things like house work, but would end up with bad days that were 10 times worse. Now on a good day I dont push myself to hard, i know my limits. 
  • mstev2
    mstev2 Member Posts: 13 Listener
    Thank you all for this.

    Somewhat less pain today, but mainly whilst sitting, because I am trying to move slowly through all the options suggested here.

    My exercise has to increase to bring this back under control, but I am holding for newly prescribed painkillers to get to me later to really get this underway. Standing up straight is acutely painful and I want to control that before I become afraid to try.

    My Chiropractor has now identified that the most probable problem is in the lowest part of the back, at the L5-S1 junction (I had to look that up). He says that it is caused either by a herniated disk or an SI Joint Dysfunction. He says both of those can be resolved without long term drug use, but he needs an MRI scan. Tried for that yesterday could not lay down to get in the right position without my whole back going into spasm, Trying again next week.

    Because of all the kindness shown to me here, I thought I would summarise what I have learned and started trying:

    1] Ice - I now have a packet of frozen peas devoted to this purpose in the freezer.
    2] Keep calm - worrying about this is not helping me.
    3] Exercise - as soon as you can do it without dramatic pain. Discomfort is survivable, screaming agony just prevents you ever taking that up.
    4] So I have checked the medications supplied by my doctor, and what they are supposed to do, producing a plan which should allow me to exercise with the screaming agony part removed.
    5] I am also trying most of the ideas to distance myself from the pain. I haven't worked which one is best yet, but the early leader is deep breathing. I have found an app for my android phone called "paced breathing" which seems to be a good guide.
    6] Stretching also helps but I have to be very careful.
  • Adrian_Scope
    Adrian_Scope Posts: 8,578 Scope online community team
    edited November 2019
    It sounds like you're trying lots of things @mstev2. Thank you for sharing the list, I'm sure it'll be of help to others.

    I'm glad to read you're not in as much pain today! :)
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  • CockneyRebel
    CockneyRebel Member Posts: 5,212 Disability Gamechanger
    Having had chronic lower back pain for 40 odd years and taking morphine and oramorph , on really bad days I use a magnetic back support which gives me relief for a little while
    Be all you can be, make  every day count. Namaste
  • mstev2
    mstev2 Member Posts: 13 Listener
    Thank you again, everyone, for the answers and help.  I had not expected anything like this and the warmth hs cheered me up enormously.
    My journey of yours have been has only just started, and so many continuing for so long.
    I have many things to try, but a plan of action is beginning to emerge and I find that so encouraging.
    There is no way that I can pay you back for the comfort received, so I can only say this group and the people and people will be remembered in my prayers.
    I will report again tomorrow in case anything I can learn might help someone else.
  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Member, Community Co-Production Group Posts: 12,478 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you for your replies's good to read your pain is a little less & that you have a plan. That puts you back in control! It's also good to read that you are willing to try different things to see what works for you; a very positive approach.
    I've been here nearly 3 months, & all I can say, as I believe you've found, is that people here really do care. We share our experiences to support each other. That's why I've stayed....your telling us more, again as you say, may help others; you're already sharing too.
    Sorry for not mentioning ice; I started imagining a lovely warm bath (I only have shower). For the past 2 years, when I've gone away with my son & daughter-in-law, he researched to make sure where we stayed was all on one level....& also had a bath!
    I look forward to tomorrow's progress report.
  • mstev2
    mstev2 Member Posts: 13 Listener
    Thank you. 
    Now trying to go to sleep with a large pillow between my legs. 
    I will let you how that goes. 
  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Member, Community Co-Production Group Posts: 12,478 Disability Gamechanger
    @mstev2 - How are you? It's early days, so just write back when you can. I hope today has seen some small steps forward (literally, & with no reference to Donald Duck!).
    Oh, I've tried the pillow bit, but not a large pillow....moderation in all things. I look forward to hearing from you again.

  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,545 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @mstev2, thanks you for sharing all of this with us, very useful! You most certainly are not a fraud and are very welcome here. :)

    I hope you're not in too much pain today.

  • mstev2
    mstev2 Member Posts: 13 Listener
    The pain does appear to be reducing. The best thing I seem to be able to do personally is to apply ice packs. Apparently it helps with the inflammation that causes quite a few different types of pain.

    I also found that my mental approach needed a talking to. The pain was causing me to clench the muscles in my back, which was, in turn, causing the pain to get worse. Diazepam helps me with this, but it struck me that there might be other approaches.

    I found this NHS web page - - which had relaxation exercises that I never considered might help with pain.

    I'm working my way through it. Found breathing exercises good. There is an app for my android phone called "Paced Breathing" which I have found helps me focus. As it's free, I thought I would pass it on.

    Thank you very much for your kind words.
  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Member, Community Co-Production Group Posts: 12,478 Disability Gamechanger
    Delighted to hear again from you @mstev2 - I'm glad the ice therapy is helping. Yes, relaxation undoubtedly helps, which was the 2nd thing I'd mentioned. I used to teach relaxation classes, & a few years ago someone I'd gotten to know offered to help my pain with a Reiki healing session. She said afterwards she'd never seen anyone be able to relax as quickly as I'd done!
    As you've also found, you need to break the vicious cycle of pain, & trying to adopt relaxation, or other techniques, is better than medication (altho' it has it's place).
    I'm no good with apps., but pleased you've found a helpful one. I do know that concentrating on your breathing is very good however. I hope your app mentions this, as it's best to re-learn how to breathe like a baby. As you breathe in, let your abdomen gently rise, as you exhale you abdomen goes down again. As adults often as we breathe in; shoulders rise, creating tension. Just mentioning this in case.
    The only other thing I might suggest is cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabidiol is completely legal as it only contains trace elements of THC (the psychoactive part of cannabis). I've been taking cannabidiol (CBD) for 15 months. May I recommend this facebook page, the 'Simply CBD Users Support:'

    The information I learnt there really helped me to try CBD; how to start, & build up gradually, to find the dosage that might help. Many medications (& even over the counter ones you might buy) must be taken into consideration as to the timing of doses. This is because CBD is broken down by a complex of enzymes in the liver where over 90% of medications are also broken down. Therefore time gaps are needed (4 hours is recommended) between taking CBD & most medications, etc. to ensure you get the benefit of prescribed medications (& not an accidental overdose).

    It is therefore essential that anyone considering taking CBD should discuss this with their prescribing Dr, or a pharmacist. I discussed this with our GP's surgery pharmacist by telephone. If you feel uncomfortable with asking your GP or pharmacist, just go into your high street chemists & ask to speak to their pharmacist. Ask if your medication, or any over the counter meds, or supplements you take, are adversely affected by the liver's cytochrome P450 complex (the liver enzymes mentioned above).

    The green oil I use from Simply CBD:  seems to be the best one for pain. In all it's a complex subject; there is 'no one size fits all,' & finding what may work is often a case of 'trial & error.' After 2 and a half weeks, I lost my lower back pain....something I hadn't even considered, as my neuropathic & joint pain are worse. But at least that helps a little, for which I'm grateful.


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