After the East Coast got covered in snow by winter storm Jonas, many people found out just how much of a pain in the back shoveling can be. According to the American Osteopathic Association, more patients with acute back pain are calling physicians' offices, concerned that their problems with need expensive tests or surgery, though that's not usually the case.
If you've suddenly become one of the many sufferers of back pain after digging yourself out of the snow after the storm, don't panic. It's unlikely that your sudden onset of pain will be difficult or costly to treat, said Jennifer Caudle, an assistant professor of family medicine at Rowan University College of Osteopathic Medicine.
"The severity of pain is not always indicative of the seriousness of the injury," she said in a news release.
In fact, Caudle explained, overuse injuries after big winter storms are not at all uncommon and can be easily treated in a few days. It's long-lasting and severe pain that should set off red flags for patients and prompt a call to a physician. Sometimes all that pain needs is a proper diagnosis, as it can come from neck or leg strain and not your back. Caudle urged that most patients shouldn't worry about needing tests like X-rays and MRIs. Physical exams can usually locate a problem and lead to effective treatment.
If you avoided back pain after this storm but are worried about the next one, there are plenty of ways you can safely shovel and reduce your risk of injury. The National Safety Council recommends that anyone who is over the age of 40 or not very physically active be especially careful when shoveling. This means stretching beforehand, taking your time, removing only small amounts of fresh and powdery snow at once, pushing instead of lifting and keeping your back straight. Don't forget to take plenty of breaks for water and catching your breath.
If you're experiencing back pain after the winter storm, schedule an appointment with a professional chiropractor today.