Health Guides
Relief for Chronic Back Pain SECTION 2 - Treatment & Self-Care
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How to Help Your Back Feel Better

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One of the most important things you can do to help yourself recover from back pain is to stay mobile. A day or two of bed rest is fine if you're really hurting, but after that, muscles begin to atrophy, which will make your back muscles weaker and make future injuries and pain more likely. So try to stay mobile, even if you just take short walks while you recover. Here are some treatments that may help you get around more comfortably:

Hot and cold therapy: Cold packs can help reduce swelling and inflammation if used the first day or two after injury. After that, the warmth of heating pads or hot water bottles can help relieve muscle tension and spasms.

Pain medications: Over-the-counter acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin can help provide short-term relief of back pain. But don't exceed the dosing instructions. And see your doctor if your situation does not improve.

Rub-on relief: Pain-relieving ointments, gels, creams, and salves are applied directly to the skin and may help reduce stiffness and muscle soreness.

The good news is that about 90% of people with acute low back pain get better within 4 to 6 weeks.