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Low Back Pain - Living With Low Back Pain

Almost everyone has low back pain at some time. The good news is that most low back pain will go away in a few days or weeks with some basic self-care. This includes first aid, self-massage and using heat or ice.

Basic self-care can also help prevent back problems from coming back.


One Man's Story:

"Some people get better fast, but others take a lot of time. That was my case. If you have back pain, do what you can for it, but don't be in a hurry. It usually gets better."—Jack

Read more about how Jack learned that he didn't need surgery.

Ease back into your daily activities

Some people are afraid that doing too much may make their pain worse. In the past, people stayed in bed, thinking this would help their backs. Now experts think that, in most cases, getting back to your normal activities is good for your back, as long as you avoid things that make your pain worse.

  • For the first day or two of pain, take it easy. But as soon as possible, get back to your normal daily life and activities.
  • Movement helps your muscles stay strong. Lying down for too long can make your problem worse.
  • If you are an athlete, return to your activity carefully. Choose a low-impact option until your pain is under control.
Getting Help Around the House
Get Chores Done Without Making Your Pain Worse
Low Back Pain and Sex
Back to Work?

Avoid or change activities that cause pain

  • Try to avoid bending, lifting, or reaching. These movements put extra stress on your back.
  • When you sit, place a small pillow, a rolled-up towel, or a lumbar roll in the curve of your back for extra support.
  • When you brush your teeth, put one foot on a stool.
  • Don't wear shoes with high heels. Wear low-heeled shoes.
  • Try different sleeping positions camera.gif.
    • If you sleep on your side, try putting a pillow between your knees.
    • If you sleep on your back, use a pillow under your knees.
    • You can also try rolling up a small towel and using it to support your lower back.
Protect Your Back as You Lie Down slideshow.gif
Protecting Your Back While Sitting
Moving From Sitting to Standing
Posture: Standing and Walking

Pay attention to your body mechanics and posture

Body mechanics are the way you use your body. Posture is the way you sit or stand.

  • To prevent a return of low back pain, you will need to take extra care when you lift. When you must lift, bend your knees and flex from your hips. Don't let your spine slump.
    actionset.gif Back Problems: Proper Lifting
  • Think about your posture, whether you are sitting or standing. Slumping or slouching alone may not cause low back pain. But after the back has been strained or injured, bad posture can make pain worse. "Good posture" generally means your ears, shoulders, and hips are in a straight line. If this posture causes pain, you may have another condition such as a problem with a disc or bones in your back.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 19, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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