Back Pain Self Help

Relief for back pain

Self help tips for back pain, muscle spasm/tightness and inflammationHere’s some quick tips from Glasgow osteopath to help prevent and manage  lower back pain. If unfortunately you do get problems;  you may notice your back pain feels inflamed or bruised. Your muscles may feel stiff or they could spasm. Sometimes there’s a combination of the two. If you do you’ll find some self help tips that should provide some relief. There’s also a quick list of pain relief medication to get you through to your osteopathic appointment.

In an earlier post I spoke about the reasons for injuries. Over Christmas the reasons are just as valid (this post was originally written for  Christmas 2010) . Hopefully, if you follow this advice you should stay pain free. If for any reason you do have back pain I’ve also included some self help tips.


Sitting slumped on the sofa watching bad TV. This can stretch the muscles and ligaments at the base of the spine leading to stiffness and pain. The best ways to stop this happening.

  1. Make sure your low back is supported. Use a cushion to stop the curling at the bottom of your spine.
  2. Take breaks from sitting. Get up and do something else. Make a cup of tea (it doesn’t have to be a long break)


An example of misuse that appeared in a paper a few years ago was lifting the turkey out of the oven while bent over. The tip here is  “Lift properly”  bend your knees rather than your back and keep the weight as close to your body as possible.

A quick note here. In all my years of practice I’ve never seen anyone who’s hurt themself lifting a Turkey. It may also be a good idea to say, when lifting the turkey, don’t keep the weight too close. I find burns last a lot longer than back pain.

New use, Over use and Abuse;

I’m placing these three together and aiming them at people with games consoles. With the advent of Wii and xbox kinect people may find that they are doing movements they’re not used to (New use). Or the competitive nature might find you playing on to beat your top score or get even with your partner (over use and abuse).

Advice here;

  1. Take frequent breaks.
  2. Vary the type of game you’re playing (different actions)
  3. Don’t play winner stays on.

If it all goes wrong here are some get out if trouble tips.

The first tip is that keeping you back moving is beneficial to practically all types of back pain. Movement will reduce inflammation and stiffness. Completely resting your back will encourage stiffness, increase inflammation, and lead to muscle weakness

Feeling tight, stiff or muscle spasm

HEAT is generally the best. You can use a hot water bottle, heat sack or pack. It should be hot NOT SCALDING. Apply heat as necessary. I don’t like the heat creams and rubs. Occasionally inflammation can occur and heat can make it worse. If that happens you can easily remove the heat. It is harder to remove a cream.

Feels Inflammed, bruised, puffy or hot

COLD is generally best. An ice pack or frozen vegetables can be used. There is some debate as to the best amount of time to apply for. I advise my patients to keep in place for ten minutes in every hour. so at 1 o’clock put on for 10 minutes, then at 2 o’clock put on for ten minutes, continue throughout the day.

NEVER place the ice pack/veg directly on the skin. ALWAYS wrap in a damp cloth. This will prevent the ice burns. Please don’t be tempted to keep the cold on much longer as this can lead to more inflammation.

Stiff and Inflamed

Contrast bathing. This combines the hot and cold.

  1. Always start and finish with cold
  2. Use each one for 4 or 5 minutes
  3. Always make sure the ice is wrapped in a damp cloth

I normally suggest a routine of cold, hot, cold. You can do more changes if required.


Being an osteopath I don’t advice on what medication you should take, but if the worst comes to the worst all of these can be bought without prescription. What I will do here is give a quick guide to what different types of medication are for.

  • Anti inflammatories; Aspirin, brufen. Don’t take these if you have asthma, or ulcers
  • Pain killers; paracetamol, codeine (usually comes with paracetamol)
  • Muscle relaxant; syndol (a branded medication containing a muscle relaxant)

With all these medications please ask your pharmacist for guidance.

This post was originally written for Christmas 2010. Some changes have been made.

Disclaimer: All the information contained within this post should never take the place of a qualified Medical Practioner. In the Scotland  NHS24 will be available over the Christmas period. I can also be contacted through E-mail or Twitter.

2 thoughts on “Back Pain Self Help

  1. Great set of tips. As a web designer by trade and a needleworker by hobby, I seem to spend most of my time sitting in a chair hunched over tiny squares of colour. We are often our own worst enemies where back pain is concerned!

  2. i have been going to see daniel and there has been a great improvement in my health the reason i first went was the pain in my neck and shoulders and the severe headaches i was suffering there has been a vast improvement in both

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