Michael Ellman, M.D.
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First Things to Do When You Throw Out Your Back

By Dr. Michael Ellman on April 14, 2015 in Education, Tips

Have you ever “thrown out” your back? For example, have you bent over suddenly to tuck sheets in to your bed and felt a sudden jabbing pain in your back, so severe you can barely stand up straight, if at all? Or sneezed and felt jolting pain in your back so sharp it takes your breath away?

Don’t laugh, because even the simplest of tasks – as described above – can result in sudden and excruciating/debilitating pain in the lower or upper back, causing practical paralysis.

First, some very good news: most people who throw out their back don’t need to head to a hospital or ER so long as they can feel their legs and they don’t have a feeling of severe numbness moving down their legs.


Most people who throw out their back won’t need to go to the hospital.

Read below for some tips on what you should do right after you throw out your back:

  • Depending on the severity of the pain, most people can be treated at home with ice and OTC medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen (anti-inflammatory medications.
  • The best thing to do right away is to lie down on a firm surface and place an ice pack on the painful area.
  • It’s OK to move about so long as you know you won’t further injure yourself. Still, don’t force unnecessary movement.
  • The pain should start to lessen if you’ve been resting for a couple of days and icing the injured area. But if it’s been three to five days and the pain is just as bad, or even worse, than it was when you hurt your back, it’s probably wise to go see a physician.
  • So long as you feel that the pain is lessening, it’s a good idea to move from applying ice to the affected to applying heat (such as with a heating pad).
  • It’s also appropriate at this point to start performing slow pelvic-tilt exercises. To see if your back is up to it, stand up and see how you feel. Bend forward and see if that feels better than extending backward. If the backward extension feels better, sit down and lean backward six times. Repeat the set of six one or two more times, so long as you feel that you’re not furthering injuring yourself.
  • If leaning forward felt better, lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest and let gravity start stretching out your back.
  • Make sure you sleep on a firm surface and, as you get out of bed, don’t bend or twist your body, but move it as one unit. Think of a log and roll yourself out of bed.

If you’ve recently hurt your back and either would like a physician to look at you or if your back pain isn’t receding after three to five days, contact Ellman Rehab Associates to make an appointment with one of our rehabilitation physicians. Contact us by calling 972-682-3909 or send us an e-mail message.

Image courtesy of graur razyan ionut/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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