Acute or sudden onset back pain can be due to a number of causes. It’s easier than one thinks to sprain ligaments, or strain the tendons or muscles that support the spine, especially if we are out of shape. While sports injuries are common, sudden onset back pain may also be a result of just bending over to pick something up off the floor.
Weakened muscles may suddenly go into spasm from performing the simplest movements. If you have a sedentary lifestyle or are carrying a few extra pounds, that can weaken the structures supporting the back, which can lead to acute back pain. If your spinal discs, muscles, and ligaments are chronically unbalanced, it can lead to a misalignment in your spine and create the perfect conditions for sudden onset back pain.
Another common cause of acute back pain is a vertebral compression fracture due to osteoporosis. This type of fracture can happen at any time, even simply from sneezing, coughing, or rolling over in bed, if the osteoporosis is sufficiently advanced. Acute back pain usually follows a vertebral compression fracture, which happens when the front part of the vertebrae collapse, making the vertebrae wedge-shaped. The acute pain from this type of fracture usually lasts for 4 to 6 weeks, when it becomes a more chronic type of aching pain. This type of fracture is rarely the cause of most acute back pain conditions but it is worth mentioning to be aware of the possibility.
Chiropractic has been proven to be an effective tool in treating and reducing acute back pain and does so in a safe and cost-effective manner. While chiropractic care is not a panacea it is the most conservative measure one can take to ameliorate back pain symptoms. Conventional medical treatment for acute back pain has not been as successful overall. In fact, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, which is a research organization sponsored by the federal government, recommended that adults with acute lower back pain first seek treatment using spinal manipulation, as it is safe, effective, and doesn’t require drugs. Chiropractors use ancillary therapies to help alleviate symptoms like cold laser therapy, EPAT, soft tissue therapy (A.R.T.), and therapeutic exercises in addition to spinal adjustments.
A study published in the December 2010 issue of The Spine Journal found that patients who were suffering from acute lower back pain had positive results after treatment with chiropractic manipulation, as opposed to no improvement in the control group who were treated with pain medication and physical therapy. The researchers reported that after 16 weeks, “78% of patients in the UC [conventional treatment] group were still taking narcotic analgesic medications on either a daily or as-needed basis.” And that “treatment including CSMT [chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy] is associated with significantly greater improvement in condition-specific functioning.”
So if you find yourself suffering from sudden onset back pain, consult with your chiropractor, who can determine the cause of your pain and provide safe, effective treatment so it doesn’t become chronic.