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Low Back Pain - Topic Overview

How is it treated? continued...

If your symptoms are severe or you still have symptoms after 2 weeks of self-care, see your doctor. You may need stronger pain medicines, or you might benefit from manual therapy.

Each of the various treatments for back pain work for some people but not for others. You may need to try different things to see which work best for you, such as:

Having ongoing (chronic) back pain can make you depressed. In turn, depression can have an effect on your level of pain and whether your back gets better. People with depression and chronic pain often benefit from both antidepressant medicines and counseling. Counseling can help you learn stress management and pain control skills.

How can you prevent low back pain from returning?

After you've had low back pain, you're likely to have it again. But there are some things you can do to help prevent it. And they can help you get better faster if you do have low back pain again.

To help keep your back healthy and avoid further pain:

  • Practice good posture when you sit, stand, and walk. "Good posture" generally means your ears, shoulders, and hips are in a straight line.
  • Get regular, low-impact exercise. Walk, swim, or ride a stationary bike. Stretch before you exercise.
  • Sleep on your side.
  • Watch your weight.
  • Don't try to lift things that are too heavy for you. When you must lift, learn the right way to lift camera.gif.

If you sit or stand for long periods at work:

  • Sit or stand up straight, with your shoulders back.
  • Make sure your chair fits you and has good back support.
  • Take regular breaks to walk around.

If your work involves a lot of bending, reaching, or lifting:

  • Talk to your human resources department to see if there are other ways you can do your work.
  • Don't depend on a "back belt" to protect your back.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about low back pain:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Ongoing concerns:

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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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