Don’t suffer with low back pain — help is available

November 19, 2019  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources

Maybe you were lifting a heavy box, exercising or just rolling out of bed. Then out of nowhere, a spasm of pain sweeps over your lower back.

You are not alone.

About 80 percent of adults will have lower back pain at some point in their lifetime.

“Lifting heavy objects, starting a new exercise routine, even the way you sit or stand, can bring on low back pain,” said Ann Walker, a physician assistant for the Back Pain Triage Program. “The good news is that the vast majority of acute low back pain cases get better within a few days or weeks.”

Help is available for anyone with new or reoccurring back pain

If you are a faculty or staff member dealing with acute low back pain that wasn’t caused by work, the Back Pain Triage Program is here to help you.

This free service is ideal for anyone with new or reoccurring flare-ups. A health care provider will perform a medical assessment and consultation. And in most cases, you can be seen within a few days.

Based on your evaluation, recommended next steps may include:

  • referral to physical therapy
  • educational resources
  • free specialized exercise classes for low back pain

Walker says most people tend to seek help only if the back pain is worse or lasts longer than a previous flare-up. However, she recommends contacting the Back Pain Triage Program at the beginning of any flare-up, whether mild, moderate or severe.

“We can help you develop self-management strategies at the beginning of a flare up, potentially reducing the length of time you are in pain and preventing your back pain from becoming chronic.”

‘I thought I was too young to have back pain’

Launched earlier this year through a partnership between MHealthy and Occupational Health Services, the Back Pain Triage Program has already made an impact.

“I thought I was too young to have back pain and was scared it might be permanent,” said one patient who had been experiencing back pain for five days.

“I don’t like taking medications but the pain was so bad I was walking funny. It was a huge relief that my pain improved within just 30 minutes of movement and I was so glad to get a physical therapy referral and not a pain medication prescription.” 

Another patient with the program had been dealing with low pack back for the last year.

“I was taking Ibuprofen regularly to help with the pain, especially during flare-ups. At the end of my evaluation, I couldn’t believe my pain was gone. But I was even happier that I was in control of my back pain by learning how to ‘move in the right direction’ so I can treat my own back pain in the future.”

When in doubt, call

If you are not sure if your pain qualifies, call the program at 734-936-7465. They can help to determine whether you should come in or take other measures.

The Back Pain Triage Program is located inside the Wellness Center on the 8th floor of University Hospital South. Appointments are usually available within one to two days. To schedule an appointment, call 734-936-7465 or complete the online form.

This program is for non-work-related back pain. As always, faculty and staff dealing with work-related back pain have access to comparable, same-day evaluations through Occupational Health Services.