Back Problems and Injuries - Home Treatment
Home treatment may help relieve
pain, swelling, and stiffness related to a back problem.
- Return to your normal daily activities and work
as soon as you can, although you may need to modify or limit some work
- Avoid bed rest. Bed rest is not an effective treatment for
back pain and may cause you to heal more slowly.
- Apply an
ice or cold pack to the injured area for the first 48 to 72 hours. Apply
cold packs or ice for 15 to 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day or up to once an
hour. Cold decreases swelling and pain. Keep a towel between your skin and the
ice to prevent
frostbite. Do not fall asleep with the ice on your
- Change position every 30 minutes. Gently massage or rub the
area to relieve pain and encourage blood flow. Do not massage the injured area
if it causes pain.
- For the first 48 hours after an injury, avoid
things that might increase swelling, such as hot showers, hot tubs, hot packs,
or alcoholic beverages.
- After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone,
heat. Use a warm pack or heating pad set on low. Some
experts recommend switching back and forth between heat and cold treatments.
You can also begin
gentle exercise with the aid of moist heat to help
restore and maintain flexibility.
- Avoid sitting up in bed, sitting
on soft couches, and twisting or sitting in other positions that make your
- Try one of the following
sleep positions if you have trouble sleeping at night:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and
supported by large pillows, or lie on the floor with your legs on the seat of a
sofa or chair.
- Lie on your side with your knees and hips bent and a
pillow between your legs.
- Lie on your stomach if it does not
increase your pain.
- Begin moderate aerobic exercise. Take short walks
(3 to 5 minutes every 3 hours) on level surfaces as soon as you can to help
keep your muscles strong. Avoid hills and stairs. Walk only distances that you
can manage without pain, especially pain in your legs. Add to your exercise
program every week to continue your progress.
- Do pelvic tilt
exercises to gently move the spine and stretch the lower back. Lie on your back
with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly tighten your stomach
muscles and press your lower back against the floor. Hold the position for 10
seconds. Do not hold your breath. Slowly relax.
Exercises to reduce pain