Emergency Care for Low Back Pain

Low back pain can hit at any age. When it does it’s hard to imagine that it will pass. If you have ever been into the office to see me for sudden severe low back pain then you have heard the following rules. I’m not strict about much but I am about this. I have found that these instructions give the most immediate relief.


For the most part, I’m preaching to the choir here. If you are reading this there is a good chance you are a patient of mine who has had a chiropractic treatment by me. You know how quickly a chiropractic adjustment can get you out of, or significantly reduce, pain. I truly see people have their low back pain resolved or decreased in a 20-minute appointment, daily. For someone who is into immediate gratification serving people who are also into immediate gratification, this rocks!

Now, I’m not your average chiropractor. Yes, chiropractic works across the board but I have honed my skill over the last 25 years and have perfected my skills and techniques. To the patients out there who saw me when I was straight out of school and are still with me to this day…I bow to you. My specialty is kinesiology or muscle testing. I use muscle testing to determine imbalances in the body. You are used to using groups of muscles to get up out of a chair, climb steps, pet your dog, etc. I isolate muscles to determine if they are getting the nerve supply they need to do their job. Then we look at rotations or compression in the joints that may be causing the weakness and correct it. I know it’s hard to imagine, so if you haven’t experienced it, please come in and give it a try. It is a remarkable process.

No Sitting

Sitting is what typically gets us in low back trouble in the first place. If you slouch when you sit, you flex (bend forward) the lumbar spine (lower back) this causes the gel-like disc to push its contents back toward the spinal cord. Over time the ligaments wear and this movement can cause pressure on the spinal cord and/or the spinal roots causing disc issues resulting in low back pain. Even if you sit up straight, sitting too long (sitting at breakfast, in the car, at work, in the car and then at home) can cause a change in the muscles. You are constantly keeping your hip flexor muscles (front of your hips) short. Then when you need them to become long they are like, “What?! You constantly keep me short so I adopted that position.” Now it’s a struggle to mobilize since the muscles are not functioning properly.

Oh, and keep your wallet out of your back pocket.

No Soft Seats

Although it’s job security for me, soft seats like reclining chairs and soft couches are absolutely horrid for the body. Once again it shortens your muscles in a way that doesn’t serve you if you want to be mobile. More people relapse when they return to their reclining chairs than not. I recommend you don’t even look at them.

When you must sit, and not for more than 20 minutes, choose a hard upright chair. A kitchen or dining room chair. 

You might think that it’s to improve your posture but it’s really to give you a short rest and change in position in a chair that is not so comfy that you won’t get up and move around. Even if you are at work. Set a timer for 20 minutes and get up and walk around.

Ice, not Heat

There are two pathways that run close together in the spinal cord. The perception of cold and the perception of pain. You can override the pain pathway by stimulating the cold pathway. Cold also decreases inflammation. Inflammation is always present with pain. Heat may feel good on a muscle but as it cools down after removing the heat, the muscle can go into a rebound spasm and get tighter than it was before.

No Lifting, Pushing or Pulling

Let your muscles stay in a neutral position without extra loading. This will help it heal. You can return to these activities when you have had 3 days of full range of motion with no pain. Start slow.

No Reading or Watching TV in Bed

The position you are in while you are on your back propped up with pillows is comparable to slouching. Don’t do it unless you are on your side and then switch sides often.


Massage within 3 days after an adjustment will help relax the muscles and help keep your adjustment.

Legs up

Lying on your back on the floor with your legs up at 90 degrees on a couch will help your low back relax and align your hips and shoulders. If you don’t think you will be able to get off the floor, lie on your back on your bed with your legs up on an inverted laundry basket. Hips and knees should be at 90 degrees.


Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant and can help ease low back pain. Take 400 mg once or twice a day (even until you get loose stools) in a citrate or glycinate form. If you are taking pain medication it is helpful to take to prevent constipation which is a common side effect.

Don’t let low back pain freak you out. Come in right away and follow these instructions. You can even schedule online at 3 am when you can’t sleep. Knowing you have an appointment will help you rest easier. Click here to schedule an appointment. 

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