There are several things you can do at home to help reduce your pain. For example:
- Rest. If your back hurts a lot, take a break. But try not to let too much time pass before you get moving again. Instead, return to your activities slowly, and avoid things that make your pain worse. Studies show that bed rest doesn't relieve back pain better than staying active. And bed rest of more than a couple of days can make your back pain worse and lead to other problems, such as stiff joints and muscle weakness.2
- Use over-the-counter pain medicinesover-the-counter pain medicines, such as acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (for example, Advil, Aleve, aspirin, and Motrin). These can reduce pain and swelling. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- Use a heating pad or ice pack. Heat can reduce pain and stiffness. Ice can help reduce pain and swelling. You might want to switch back and forth between heat and cold until you find what helps you the most.
- Exercise . Ask your doctor or a physical therapist about what kinds of exercises you can do to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your back, shoulders, and stomach. These muscles help support your spine. Strong muscles can help improve your posture, keep your body in better balance, decrease your chance of injury, and reduce pain.
- Practice good posturePractice good posture. Poor posture puts stress on your back. Be sure to stand or sit tall, with your shoulders and your stomach pulled in to support your back. Don't slump or slouch.
Here are some other things you can do to feel better:
- See a counselor. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can show you how to change certain thoughts and behaviors to control your pain. For more information, see the topic Stop Negative Thoughts: Choosing a Healthier Way of Thinking.
- Learn ways to reduce stressstress. Stress can make your pain feel worse. You might try deep breathing and relaxation exercises or meditation.
- Eat nutritious foods. Getting plenty of calcium and vitamin D may help prevent osteoporosis, which can lead to compression fractures and back pain. For more information, see the topic Healthy Eating.
- Don't smoke. Smoking decreases blood flow and slows healing. If you need help quitting, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
- Take extra care when you lift. When you must lift, bend your knees and keep your back straight. Avoid twisting. Keep the load close to your body.
- Use a pain diary(What is a PDF document?). Write down how your moods, thoughts, sleep patterns, activities, and medicines affect your pain. Having a record of your pain can help you and your doctor find the best ways to treat your pain.