What is throwing out your back? Perhaps you’ve experienced this intense, sharp pain that we call “throwing out your back.” Of course, that is a figure of speech. Your back is not actually thrown anywhere. But the pain is real! It can feel like parts of your back have moved, or that something needs to be put back in place to heal. This acute back pain can be very unpleasant, and can keep you sidelined from your activities.
Common Signs You’ve Thrown Out Your Back
Throwing out your back is characterized by a sudden, severe pain in your back. This usually occurs in the lower back, and happens during physical activity. It can be caused by a muscle spasm, arthritis, a slipped or ruptured disc, or the cause can remain a mystery. The most common cause is muscle strain or spasm. It can happen to you even if you don’t have a history of back pain or problems.
Herniated Discs and Back Pain
Due to the degree of their pain, many people assume that they have a herniated disc. A herniated or slipped disc occurs when a disc ruptures or bulges. Our spines are made up of vertebrae, and in between them are discs filled with a jelly-like center encased in a tough exterior. When a disc is herniated, the jelly-like center leaks out. This can cause pain and pressure on the spinal nerves.
More often than not, however, a disc is not the cause for the acute back pain of throwing out your back. Causes vary from person to person, and the pain may go away on its own. Here are some tips for treating your acute back pain:
- Rest – Stop what you are doing and rest. Try to lie down in a back-neutral position. This means your spine will be aligned. Lay on your back with your head supported by a pillow and your knees bent.
- Ice it – Apply ice packs to the affected area of your back for 20 minutes. This will help with inflammation.
- Anti-inflammatories – Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
- Heat it up – After the first 24-48 hours, you can switch from ice to heat. Apply a heating pad or other forms of heat for 20 minutes.
If you are still in agony after two days, it’s time to contact a physician. If you are experiencing leg numbness or shooting pains down your leg, it’s also important to get in touch with a physician.