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Treatments a Doctor Can Provide

See a doctor if at-home back pain treatments aren't working or your pain has lasted longer than a few weeks. You may need a new approach.

  • Injections. Your doctor may inject medicine into tissue, joints, or nerves in your back. Steroids can reduce swelling and pain. Painkillers can numb pain. Depending on the person and the type of medication injected, relief may last from several days to several months.
  • Physical Therapy. A physical therapist can give you exercises to build strength, help your posture, and improve how you move, so your back can recover and you can keep it strong.
  • Prescription Medication. For serious or long-lasting pain, your doctor may suggest prescription medication. This may include anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, opioid painkillers, or antidepressants.
  • Surgery. Most people with back pain don't need surgery. But for certain people it can be the right treatment. A surgeon can repair damaged discs or fractures. However, surgery may not be a permanent solution. The pain sometimes returns.

Complementary Back Pain Treatments

There are several other back pain treatments you can try.

  • Acupuncture. An expert inserts tiny needles in your skin at specific points to relieve pain. Studies have found that acupuncture can help some people with back pain.
  • Electrical stimulation. This involves sending harmless levels of electricity to the nerves in order to ease pain. The most common form of this treatment is called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS.)
  • Massage. One study found that massage helped reduce back pain and improve function faster than regular medical care alone. Be sure to tell your massage therapist about your back pain and any injuries.
  • Spinal Manipulation. An expert will press against a joint in your spine with hands or a device. The idea is to relieve pressure and realign the joints and muscles. Spinal manipulation is also called chiropractic adjustment. Studies have found the approach can help with back pain.

Tips to Prevent Back Pain

  • Seek support from your furniture. Sit in chairs with good back support. Make sure your desk is at a comfortable height.
  • Have good posture. Try not to slouch when you're sitting or standing. Keep your shoulders back when sitting at a desk. Don't let your shoulders creep up toward your ears.
  • Lift carefully. Don't try to pick up things that are too heavy. When lifting, bend from your knees, not your waist.
  • Sleep on your side with your knees bent. It puts less stress on your spine. Try not to sleep on your stomach. If you sleep on your back, put pillows under your lower back and knees.
  • Stretch. Before you work out or do anything strenuous, stretch first. It lowers the risk of a strain or sprain.

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