Back Safety

Types of injury (See Doctor If...)

Acute
  • Deformity
  • Severe Pain (5/10 or greater)
  • Immediate Swelling (Compare to other side)
  • Crepitating or grinding over injured area Inability to move joint, bear weight
  • Referred Pain
Chronic
  • Progressive worsening -pain
  • Declining function
  • Exclusively night pain
Insidious Onset
  • Abdominal, Chest, Head
  • No explanation for pain
  • Progresses over 3-5 days

Acute Injury Treatment- RICES
  • R= Rest - allow the injured area to begin the healing process
  • I = Ice- after the initial evaluation- apply for 20 minutes and for the first 72 hours (minimum)
  • C= Compression- apply a snug wrap (cautious to not cut off circulation). Don't wear when sleeping
  • E= Elevation- keep area above heart whenever possible
  • S= Support- support injured body part if possible
Other Back Injuries After-Injury Treatment
  • use ice, 20-30 minutes at a time a few times a day
  • rest, but try to get on your stomach periodically for 10 -15 min
  • pharmacological aids for inflammation- over the counter or as directed by MD or pharmacist
  • an addition- chest deep water for un-weighted feeling is great for pain
  • watch use of hot tub since when in here tend to slouch and this should be avoided
Medical attention should be sought if…
  • Referred pain down the leg
  • Weakness, foot drop through the leg
  • Can't straighten up, leaning forward, backward or to the side
  • Bowel or bladder incontinence Seek Emergency Care

Muscle Strain

A muscle straing can “pull” a muscle in the back and get some tearing of the muscle fibers, which leads to an inflammatory response. Treat as directed earlier.

Disc injury

  • This is a common injury-it can vary greatly by degrees and symptoms
  • Referred to as bulging disc or herniated disc
  • Usually this injury is not caused by one incident, rather the incident that results in pain is “the straw that broke the camel's back”
  • Treat as directed above, stressing ice and lying on stomach, keeping in mind when to seek medical attention

The Spine

How does a bulge occur?

  • Gapping in the spine towards the back, from which the disc migrates out.

How does the gapping occur?

  • Sitting with poor posture especially slouch sitting (in a recliner, car, etc.)
  • Prolonged sitting in poor posture- then standing and lifting something immediately- light or heavy object 
  • Lifting with a bent back- improper body mechanics- light or heavy object

How do I decrease the chance of a disc injury?

  • Limit sitting- take breaks in between, when you stand- do a few gentle backward bends, avoid slouching
  • Don't start lifting immediately after prolonged sitting- walk around, backward bend, warm up a bit
  • Proper posture when sitting, lifting and in daily activities
  • Maintain flexibility- especially in your hamstrings, quadriceps, and back
  • Maintain strength- especially in the abdominals and back (core muscle strength)

In other words, regular exercise including stretching, strengthening and aerobic activity can help decrease your chance of a back injury.

Power Position

This is important during all activities. Rear out, back straight with small curve, with tight abdominals and back. Other important concepts for lifting include:

  • Bend at the hips and knees
  • Wide BOS- shoulder width, straight or staggered
  • Object close to body, work close to body
  • Pivot feet to turn- don't twist at back
  • Anticipate weight of object before lift
  • When carrying- have a clear path
  • Lift objects no higher than your waist
  • Avoid repetitive lifting without resting in between
  • Get help for heavy, overhead, and/or awkward loads
  • Maintain principles throughout lift, carry and release

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