Treating Back Pain

If you do experience lower back pain, there are some things you can do on your own without a doctor visit:

Keep moving:  When you are hurt, your natural reaction is to stop until you feel better. But this inactivity – especially bed rest – can actually slow the healing process and make your muscles weaker, tighter and more painful.  You don’t want to do activities that will make your back worse (no heavy lifting), but keep as active as possible.

Find a comfortable position:  The before mentioned suggestion isn’t saying you can’t take a break. When you do rest, try to find a position that relieves your pain.  Lying on your back with your hips and knees bent and a pillow under your thighs might help. Some people also find relief lying on their side with their knees bent and a pillow between their legs.

Apply heat or cold:  Heat can loosen tight muscles and cold can ease pain.  Apply cold (such as an ice pack) or heat (a hot water bottle or heating pad) for 15 minutes at a time each hour.  Some people find alternating heat and cold works best. Still others like a warm bath, a whirlpool tub, or a warm massaging shower head.

Over-the-counter pain medication:  Standard pain medication can also be very effective. While they may not entirely eliminate pain, over-the-counter (OTC) medications should control the pain enough that you can be active.

–       Anti-inflammatories:  ibuprofen (generic, Advil, Nuprin, or Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) not only help relieve your pain, but also help reduce inflammation.

–       Acetaminophen (generic, Tylenol, Excedrin) can also help with pain relief.

Keep in mind that if you take medication for any other medical condition (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or arthritis) you should check with your doctor before taking any OTC pain reliever. Also, be sure to follow the directions on the package.

If simple remedies don’t offer relief in a couple of days, you may want to see your doctor. They can offer additional treatment options as well as rule out any serious condition.

If you have questions regarding back pain, Intermountain Healthcare and KUTV 2 will be holding “Ask The Expert” on Tuesday, July 12th.  Medical experts will answer questions about back pain during interviews on air and over the phone with callers from noon to 5:30 p.m.  Those interested can call 877-908-0680 to speak free of charge to one of the many experts, including doctors, physical therapists, and other clinicians, or receive answers via Facebook or Twitter using #kutvasktheexpert.