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Low Back Pain - Treatment Overview

Experts divide low back pain into two categories:

  • Acute: This is pain that has lasted less than 3 months. Most people get better with home treatment.
  • Chronic: This is pain that has lasted longer than 3 months. People with chronic back pain are usually helped with more intensive treatment.

Treatment for acute low back pain

Learn about the first aid steps you can take when you first get back pain, such as using heat or ice, taking medicine, and not resting too much.

Sometimes acute low back pain lasts longer than a few days, even after you try first aid steps. In such a case, you might add another treatment, such as manual therapy or stronger pain medicine.

If your pain is very bad, your health care provider may recommend short-term use of an opiate painkiller or a muscle relaxant. Some people consider epidural steroid shots.

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Answers From an Expert:

"Stay as active as you can. Doctors used to say to rest, but it turns out that this is not the case. The more active you are, the better you will be, and the faster you will heal."—Dr. Robert Keller

Read more advice from this back specialist.

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One Woman's Story:

"I thought, 'Okay, it will hurt for a day or two, and that's it.' But it lasted a lot longer. It took about 3 weeks. I guess we're used to fast cures. We take an aspirin, and the headache goes away. We take the antibiotic, and the infection disappears." —Lorna

Read more about how Lorna learned to be patient with her back.

Treatment for chronic low back pain

If you have chronic back pain, one type of treatment by itself doesn't always stop your pain. Spinal manipulation can work to relieve low back pain. Other treatments can too.

Low Back Pain: Should I Have Spinal Manipulation?

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    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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