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 lifetimes.
“Lifting heavy objects, starting a new exercise routine, even the way you sit or stand, can bring on low back pain,” says 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.”
Two locations available for employees with back pain flare-ups
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
For your convenience, the program now has two locations:
- University Hospital South. inside the Wellness Center on the 8th floor
- North Campus Research Complex (NCRC), Bldg. 16, Room 016-B-032C
Appointments are usually available within one to two days. To schedule an appointment, call (734) 936-7465 or complete the online form.
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 Service, 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 employee participant 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 participant 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.
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.