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Low Back Pain - Topic Overview

How is it treated?

Most low back pain will improve with basic first aid, which includes continuing to do light activity such as walking, and taking over-the-counter pain medicine as needed.

Walking is the simplest and maybe the best exercise for the lower back. It gets your blood moving and helps your muscles stay strong.

Your doctor or physical therapist can recommend more specific exercises to help your back muscles get stronger. These may include a series of simple exercises called core stabilization. Strengthening the muscles in your trunk can improve your posture, keep your body in better balance, and lower your chance of injury.

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.

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