Studies show that following a back injury, 70% of people will significantly improve after 2 weeks, and 90% to 95% of people will recover within 2-3 months.
During this ‘acute’ phase, the focus should be on staying as comfortable as possible whilst the body’s natural healing process takes place. Passive treatments such as massage, manipulation (where appropriate), painkillers and heat can all help at this stage. It’s also important to be aware of posture, how to protect your back from further injury, and finding comfortable positions to ease the pain.
Staying active and avoiding excessive rest during the acute phase is also important to avoid rapid deconditioning of the back muscles.
The pain experienced by the 5%-10% who do not recover within this time is classified as chronic. Evidence shows that deconditioning because of pain and reduced activity in people who have chronic back pain can result in weakened muscles of the low back and spine.
It is possible for the body to be strong everywhere except the back. The back can only be strengthened when the lumbar spine is moving against resistance. Typically, if you have back pain, you will (unknowingly) change your body mechanics to protect your back, substituting pelvic motion for lumbar motion.