Did you know that according to Forbes.com wait times to see a doctor are up 30%, with the average wait time to see a doctor 24 days. According to everydayhealth.com the average wait time to see a specialist was over 18 days.
I have had two disc herniations and I know the frustration you feel when you need to see a doctor or get an MRI and you are told the first time you can be seen is over two weeks away. When you are suffering from really bad pain that is a truly awful feeling. I remember thinking that they have no idea what it is like to have bad back pain that prevents you from doing the activities that you need to do.
If you are in this situation you are probably getting lots of unsolicited advice from well-meaning friends and family about what you should or should not be doing. Often this advice is conflicting leaving you not only in pain but confused and (due to pain) probably irritated and angry. Let me give you advice from a Doctor of Chiropractic that has had nearly every type of treatment for back pain including surgery. These are the three things that you can do right now to get some relief
1. Relax and breathe deeply. This may sound useless when you are really hurting but hear me out. Until a doctor gives you a clear credible explanation for the cause of your pain there is often a great deal of anxiety from fear of the unknown. I have seen quite a few patients over the years that think they have either cancer or heart disease causing their pain until I have shown them otherwise. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association less than one percent of low back pain is due to cancer. I suffered a bad flare-up of lower back pain after helping a patient that reminded me of my episode of severe pain and brought back a lot of bad memories. After getting out of bed, laying on the floor and accepting that I will miss the next couple of days of work while breathing deeply I fell back to sleep and woke up without pain. The point here is that your pain is 99% likely to be mechanical and will get better with time and proper care, so breathe, relax and realize that you will improve.
2. Move: There is plenty of research showing that bedrest is not what you want to do for lower back pain. That being said when the pain is so bad that you can’t stand straight and movement sends jolts of pain down your leg, a couple of days of bed rest can calm the pain down to a level where you can move. Generally walking is the best thing you can do to start getting some relief, so just go outside and start with short walks that do not increase your pain and slowly increase the distance. Stretching that does not increase the pain is also helpful. I have found that most people respond best to bending forward, but there are those that get more relief from bending backwards. It depends on which structure in the lower back is causing your pain. Start with bringing your knees to your chest while lying on your back and see if you get relief.
3. Temperature therapies: Ice and heat is one of the easiest yet most effective home therapies. There is controversy as which to use first for example WebMD recommends heat. I have found some patients only like one and will not use the other. My experience with my own pain and my patients is that ice is great for pain relief the first 24 hours then contrast therapy which is ice then heat works well. If you use ice do not use over 15 minutes or you can actually make the problem worse because your body thinks that it is freezing. Heat should be for 10-15 minutes and moist heat(such as a hot shower or moist heat pad) is better. Do not fall asleep on an electric heating pad.
Having had severe pain, I know that these suggestions will not eliminate your pain but they did start to take the edge off and helped after I started my more advanced treatments. If you are waiting to see an orthopedist, try calling a Doctor of Chiropractic because you can usually be seen within one to two business days. They can definitely treat severe pain, and most importantly diagnose why you have your pain. Click here for a free consultation to start living without pain.