Skip to content

    Back Pain Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    What Is Your Back Pain Telling You?

    The First 48 Hours: Self-Help Tips continued...

    Reach for the Meds
    Or, if reaching is out of the question, dispatch someone to the medicine chest for an anti-inflammatory — aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). These can be started right away (at the highest dose recommended on the label) to reduce pain and swelling. If you're allergic to these painkillers or they upset your stomach, you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol), but it won't reduce inflammation as effectively. Consult your doctor if you're on other medications or if the OTC pills aren't touching the pain. You may need different or stronger meds, or a muscle relaxant.

    Rest. A Little.
    Naturally, you'll ask your husband to bring the laundry up from the basement and you'll stop doing any motion you think put you in this predicament. Lie down when you need to, but make sure it's in a back-neutral position: Try lying on your back with your head supported but not lifted and your knees bent and supported with a cushion. Another option: Lie on your side with one pillow behind your neck and another between your knees. Bed rest is OK only for the first 48 hours; after that (or even in those first two days), walking around will relieve pain-causing tension in your muscles.

    Talk to your doctor if your pain continues to worsen, and seek professional help right away if:

    • You've fallen, been in a car accident, or had another traumatic injury
    • You can't move one or both legs, or you have severe numbness or weakness
    • You lose bowel control or have urinary difficulties, or you lose feeling in the groin (there may be severe nerve involvement)
    • You have fever — it could be an infection
    • You experience severe pain with movement, especially if you have arthritis or osteoporosis — you may have a fracture

    Back Pain Remedies
    The Good Housekeeping Research Institute assembled a panel of back-pain sufferers to test-drive four soothers, all top sellers from amazon.com.

    Tiger Balm
    This oldie — the herbal ointment was created about a century ago — is apparently still a goodie, earning top scores for immediate and longer-term relief. It "totally worked," said a panelist. $10.56 for two 4-packs.

    Today on WebMD

    Woman holding lower back
    Or is it another form of back pain?
    Hand on back
    See the myths vs. the facts.
     
    Woman doing pilates
    Good and bad exercises.
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    Use it to manage your pain.
     
    Man with enhanced spinal column, rear view
    Video
    pain in brain and nerves
    Slideshow
     
    Chronic Pain Healtcheck
    Health Check
    break at desk
    Article
     
    Woman holding lower back
    Slideshow
    Weight Loss Surgery
    Slideshow
     
    lumbar spine
    Slideshow
    back pain
    Article