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  • Writer's pictureLori Goodsell

What to do when you hurt your back and you can't stand up

Updated: May 22, 2023

man lying on ground

When you hurt your back and you can't stand up, it can be very panic inducing. After twenty two years of being a chiropractor, most of these injuries don't happen from high risk activities. It's the easy things like bending over in the shower, brushing your teeth or picking up the dog bowl off the floor that are fraught with injury potential when your spine isn't working properly.

If you've fallen off a ladder or something equally awful, stop reading and go to the urgent care. If you are like many of my new patients who just coughed or twisted wrong and now you are finding yourself on the floor unable to move, this is the article for you.

If you've injured your back and can't stand up, the first thing you need to start doing while you are laying there is pre contracting your abdominal muscles to prepare for movement. If you don't know how to contract your abs, that is a big part of your current situation and needs to be your new life's focus. What has most likely happened is that part of your abdominal musculature has stopped firing and caused your spine's weight bearing ability to collapse. Your abs need to be encouraged to start firing again and spinal muscles need to become unfrozen.

Once you've managed to get off of the floor, ice is your friend. You need to alternate icing and moving. I recommend walking to your tolerance. If that means a walk to your mailbox every 20 minutes, do it. If you can get further, just keep yourself moving. If you've injured your back and can't stand up, lying on the couch like a lump is just going to make things worse. Especially do not start reaching for the heating pad, that will cause a world of hurt as you bring more inflammation to your muscles.

Clearly seeing a chiropractor is now on your to-do list. Even if two days later your back is feeling better, having your muscles rapidly deactivate causing that type of injury is concerning if left undealt with. It will ALWAYS crop up again and probably at the worst time. I always encourage my new patients to start with icing and walking in the hours leading up to their appointment. We can help!

When should you start chiropractic care? When you can get on and off my table. Some of the worst moments in my clinic over 22 years have been where the patient lies down and immediately freezes and I haven't even touched them yet. Once you can get on and off my table, please come in. If I think you need to start with a course of drugs or muscle relaxers to get you over the hump, I will definitely refer you elsewhere and see you once things have settled down. Usually we don't need to go that route but if you are stuck at the bottom of the stairs unable to lift a leg there aren't a lot of options.

While debilitating back pain like this is frightening, if dealt with at the right chiropractor, you will fully recover and be back to living an active and healthy life. Damage to your spine like this can be reversed, movement patterns of your spine can change and muscle imbalances that contribute to this lack of stability, can be improved to make you stronger and more active than ever.

Call us when you are ready to begin chiropractic care. 763.553.0387 or go to my website to schedule

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