General recommendations are to rest for the first 24 to 48 hours, followed
by a gradual increase in activity as soon as possible. Stretching or activities that place additional strain
on the back are discouraged, however.
Sleeping with a pillow between the knees while lying on one side may
increase comfort. Some doctors recommend lying on your back with a pillow under
No specific back exercises were found that improved pain or
increased functional ability in people with acute back pain. Exercise, however,
may be useful for people with chronic back pain to help them return to normal
activities and work.
Nonprescription medications may provide relief from pain.
Ibuprofen (such as Advil, Nuprin, or Motrin), available over-the-counter,
is an excellent medication for the short-term treatment of low back pain.
Because of the risk of ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding, talk with your
doctor about using this medication for a long time.
Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) has been shown to be as
effective as ibuprofen in relieving pain.
Topical agents such as “deep heating rubs” have not been shown to be
Some people seem to benefit from the use of ice or heat. Their use,
although not proven effective, is not considered to be harmful. Take care: Do
not use a heating pad on "high" or place ice directly on the skin.
Most experts agree that prolonged bed rest is associated with a longer
recovery period. Further, people on bed rest are more likely to develop depression, blood clots in the legs, and decreased muscle
tone. Very few experts recommend more than a 48-hour period of decreased
activity or bed rest. In other words, get up and get moving to the extent you
DEET is the most effective insect repellant. It can be found in a variety of lotions and sprays and purchased in most drug stores. There has been some concern about the negative effects of using this chemical, particularly for children, but none of the natural plant products are likely to be as reliable.The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that DEET not be used on children younger than two months of age.
Picaridin is a plant-derived compound and is also somewhat effective against...
Initial treatment of low back pain is based on the assumption that the pain
in about 90% of people will go away on its own in about a month. Many different
treatment options are available. Some of them have been proven to work. Others
are of more questionable use.
Home care is recommended for the initial treatment of low back pain. Bed
rest remains of unproven value, and most experts recommend no more than two
days of bed rest or decreased activity. Some people with sciatica (back pain
going down the leg) may benefit from 2-4 days of rest. Application of local ice
and heat provide relief for some people and should be tried. Acetaminophen and
ibuprofen are useful for controlling pain.
Many studies have called into question the usefulness of our present
treatment of back pain. For any given person, it is not known if a particular
therapy will provide benefit until it is tried. Your doctor may try treatments
known to be helpful in the past.
If back pain is associated with sudden loss of bladder and/or bowel control,
weakness, or paralysis it is important to seek immediate medical attention.