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Back pain

From MayoClinic.com

Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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BRAIN & NERVOUS SYSTEM
Pain

Self-care

A sore back usually settles down or improves within four weeks, unless there's a serious medical condition causing the pain. See your doctor if you don't experience any improvement after 72 hours of home treatment.

These steps can help you treat back pain at home:

  • Keep moving. Prolonged bed rest isn't a good idea for back pain. Light activity speeds healing and recovery. If your back hurts, stop the aggravating activities, but try to keep up activities that aren't painful.

  • Apply cold, then heat. Sources of heat and cold, such as a hot bath and hot or cold compresses, can soothe sore and inflamed muscles. Use cold treatment first. Immediately after injuring your back, apply ice several times a day, for up to 20 minutes at a time. Put the ice in a bag, then wrap the bag in a cloth or towel to keep a thin barrier between the ice and your skin. Use ice for as long as spasms persist. After spasms and acute pain subside, you can apply heat from a heating pad or heat lamp to help loosen tight muscles. Limit each heat application to 20 minutes.

  • Use pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may help control pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) also can reduce inflammation, swelling and stiffness.

  • Consider limited use of a support brace or corset. Braces and corsets are available over the counter at pharmacies and medical supply stores. Your doctor also may prescribe a brace customized for your back. However, research studies are divided as to whether back braces and corsets can relieve strain. They can provide warmth, comfort and a degree of support to your back. But some devices may be uncomfortable. Another drawback is that your back muscles may weaken with prolonged use of a brace or corset. It's best to use a brace or corset only for short periods or during back-straining activities. The best brace or corset you can give yourself is your own "muscle corset." You can build up your muscle corset through back strengthening and stability exercises.

Complementary and alternative medicine

Besides treatment provided by a doctor and self-care steps taken at home, some people have turned to complementary and alternative therapies for relief of back pain.

  • Chiropractic care. Back pain is one of the most common reasons that people see a chiropractor. If you're considering chiropractic care, talk to your doctor about the most appropriate specialist for your type of problem. In addition to chiropractors, many osteopathic doctors and some physical therapists have training in spinal manipulation.

  • Acupuncture. Some people with low pack pain report that acupuncture helps relieve their symptoms. It may provide some help for people with chronic low back pain.

 

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 


 



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Last Modified : 03/14/08 07:02 PM