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    Self-Care at Home

    General recommendations are to resume normal, or near normal, activity as soon as possible. Stretching or activities that place additional strain on the back are discouraged, however.

    Sleeping with a pillow between the knees while lying on one side may increase comfort. Some doctors recommend lying on your back with a pillow under your knees.

    There are no specific back exercises that have been shown to improve pain or increase functional ability in people with acute back pain. Exercise, however, may be useful for people with chronic back pain to help them return to normal activities and work.

    Nonprescription medications may provide relief from pain:

    • Ibuprofen (such as Advil, Nuprin, or Motrin), available over-the-counter, is an excellent medication for the short-term treatment of low back pain. Because of the risk of ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding, talk with your doctor about using this medication.
    • Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) is also effective in relieving pain.
    • Topical agents such as "deep heating rubs" have not been shown to be effective.

    Some people seem to benefit from the use of ice or heat. Their use, although not proven effective, is not considered to be harmful. Take care: Do not use a heating pad on "high" or place ice directly on the skin.

    Most experts agree that prolonged bed rest is associated with a longer recovery period. Further, people on bed rest are more likely to develop depression, blood clots in the legs, and decreased muscle tone. Very few experts recommend more than a 48-hour period of decreased activity or bed rest. In other words, get up and get moving to the extent you can unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

    WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

    Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on June 04, 2014
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