Here’s the good news about acute low back pain: It usually goes away on its own, with little or no intervention. But if you’re looking for ways to ease your pain in the interim, try the following to aid in symptom relief and recovery:
- Rest up—but not too much! Rest your back no longer than a day or two after your injury if pain is severe, as long periods of bed rest can weaken muscles and do more harm than good.
- Get back on track. Though you may need to start slowly, returning to regular activity as soon as you’re able will keep your back conditioned and help prevent a relapse.
- Walk it off. Take short walks throughout the day and wear athletic shoes while walking. Pull your stomach in slightly as you walk to support your back and limit the length of your steps to minimize tension on the back. And choose your surface wisely: Try to walk on asphalt instead of cement, which is harder and can stress your back.
- Turn up the heat. Apply a heat wrap (which is safer than a heating pad and available in drugstores) or a heating blanket for temporary relief of muscle spasms and pain.
- Opt for a pain reliever. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), can provide short-term relief when taken as directed by your doctor. Limit the use of these drugs to no longer than one or two weeks, as excessive or long-term use can cause stomach ulcers and bleeding (NSAIDs) or liver damage (acetaminophen), especially in older adults. Don’t use them at all if you’re at risk for these adverse effects
When back pain won't go away
- Chair Bend. Sit in a chair with knees spread apart Bent forward and reach back between your legs. Hold 3 seconds. Repeat 10 times per session
- Hip Twist. Laying on your back with your knees bent and your feet together, rotate your legs to the side. Repeat 10 times per session
- Peel Up. Peel yourself up from lying face down keeping your lower back and legs relaxed. Repeat 10 times per session
- Side Stretch. With hand against a wall, slowly stretch your hips towards the wall with your other hand on your hip. Hold 3 seconds and then relax