Back pain: How to provide first aid care

Fact Checked

Back pain can be triggered by various injuries or conditions. It is important to properly care for back injuries to allow the healing process to start. For minor back injuries, it is recommended to follow the PRICE method. This includes a series of treatment options that can be carried out at home during the initial 2-3 days.

Close look on the PRICE method

  • Protection – the injury should be protected from further damage. When it comes to back injuries, this is a vital principle to follow. If possible, avoid movement that triggered back pack in the first place. This usually includes forward bending, heavy lifting or a combination of twisting and bending.
  • Rest – the individual should avoid exercise and reduce daily activities to allow healing to take place. Heavy lifting must be avoided.
  • Application of ice – apply an ice pack to reduce the symptoms especially pain and inflammation. You should wrap the ice pack with a damp towel and applied for 15 minutes.

Both compression and elevation are not possible for back injuries.

Back pain
The individual should avoid exercise and reduce daily activities to allow healing to take place.

When to consult a doctor for back pain?

In most cases of back injuries, they usually settle with proper rest while other cases require treatment.

For lower back injuries, they require medical attention particularly in severe cases. Those that are linked with persistent pain or there is ongoing impairment after a sports injury, a doctor should be seen so that further assessment can be carried out.

If the following are present from a back injury, it is best to seek medical care:

  • Intense back pain that lasts more than 24 hours
  • Unsteadiness or dizziness
  • Significant leg pain that arises after severe back pain
  • Referred pain to the legs and/or feet after a back injury particularly if the symptoms do not settle within 24 hours
  • Changes in the bladder or bowel habits
  • Pins and needles sensation or loss of sensation in the feet or legs
  • Loss of sensation at the base of the back in the “saddle” region

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on back pain is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to manage back injuries and conditions, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Mississauga, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Surrey, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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