Ease Lower Back Pain

Ease Lower Back Pain

When low back pain strikes -- it hits about 80% of folks at least once -- almost everyone is told to take a Tylenol and take it easy. But until now no one bothered to check if taking that pain reliever really makes you feel better.

Seems for most folks, it doesn’t. This was the conclusion of the Australian, double-blind, randomized PACE study. The participants who took acetaminophen (medical term for Tylenol) three times a day, those who took it as needed and those who got a placebo reported no differences in pain and disability, symptom change, sleep or recovery time.

So where does that leave you and your aching lower back?

The good news is that most people with mild to moderate low back pain get well in six weeks. One caution: If you have nerve-related symptoms, see a doctor pronto. And if pain persists longer than six weeks, see a specialist. In the meantime ease your discomfort with these tips:

  1. Alternate between applying heat and cold packs. Do this two to three times a day for 20 minutes each time.
  2. When seated, use a high-back chair with arm rests and good lumbar support; your thighs should be parallel to the floor.
  3. When standing, maintain a relaxed, balanced posture.
  4. Keep moving and busy.  For moderate to mild back pain, the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Spine Health says you should keep a near-normal schedule from the onset.
  5. If things aren’t improving, consider physical therapy. You’ll learn a simple exercise program that’s designed to speed your recovery.  

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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