As someone with lifelong asthma, my upper and lower back are places that hold an extreme amount of tension. This is not uncommon for asthma sufferers. After a bad bout of bronchitis, my back and chest can hurt for weeks. Even during daily activities, I may notice chest heaviness on an allergic day. Back tightness is ever present. So, keeping my back, spine, chest and lungs healthy is a top priority.
Sometimes the back has its own way of telling you what to do however, and major discomfort or spasm forces the body to stop, rest and regroup.
Within the last ten years I've only had two lower back "incidents," by that I mean back-spasms. One was before my first alumni reunion weekend in Vermont. I woke up and I couldn't stand up straight. I went to my family chiropractor who gave me an adjustment and I was able to attend the weekend. The second incident occurred after I was lifting a television set (I know, I know). I felt my back "zing" and I was on bed rest for three days. My family doctor prescribed three different medications: a major analgesic and two opioids. I took a modest amount of Advil, best rest and hot baths and my back recovered.
In the past few weeks, I've had a third incident. Upon rising, my lower back felt stiff. By the end of an 8 a.m. meeting, I couldn't stand up straight; my lower back was in complete spasm. Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints. I think for asthmatics, general back tightness might make us predisposed to back trouble.
What to do about it once it happens? This is what I do to relieve back tension and pain:
1. Lie on the floor. I spent more than three days on the floor with my legs elevated because of this latest back incident. With my legs elevated, the back is not only supported, but is able to release more thoroughly .I concentrated on using the Alexander technique to actively release and relax my lower back, my upper back, my neck and my spine.
2. Take therapeutic doses of anti-inflammatory medication. According to this study, Advil is no better at helping your back pain versus Tylenol.
"The researchers said the review data ‘support guidelines for the management of low back pain in primary care that recommend NSAIDs as a treatment option after (acetaminophen) has been tried, since there are fewer side effects with (acetaminophen),' said lead reviewer Pepijn Roelofs, a doctoral student at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Roelofs and colleagues noted there's ‘conflicting evidence that NSAIDs are more effective than simple analgesics and bed rest, and moderate evidence that NSAIDs are not more effective than other drugs, physiotherapy or spinal manipulation for low back pain.'"
I believe whatever you will be most med-compliant with -- meaning you will take the whole course of medication and not stop when you begin to feel a little better -- is probably the best course of action. As I'm loathe taking opioids unless absolutely necessary, a therapeutic course of Tylenol and or Advil is my first defense.