Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Symptoms serious signs Evaluation Treatment specialist Home Care back exercises pain in adults pain in children warning signs Prevention exercises proper lifting proper posture Underlying Cause Anatomy

Painful Back Home Care

Home care for back pain includes:

  • Avoid activities that cause back pain.
  • Apply a cold compress:
    • Wrap ice in a moist hand towel. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
    • Apply for 20-30 minutes, every 1-2 hours, for the first few days.
  • Apply warm compresses:
    • Apply for 20-30 minutes, every 1-2 hours, after a few days.
  • Rest your back:
    • Avoid heavy lifting.
    • Avoid bedrest.
    • Return to walking as soon as possible.
  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
  • After 2-3 days, start:
    • Back stretching exercises
    • Back range of motion exercises
  • Perform back strengthening exercises:
    • After pain has resolved
  • Maintain good posture.
  • Lift with your legs.
  • Weight loss if you are overweight
  • Take prescribed medications as directed:
    • Don't skip doses of your medication. This makes them less effective.
    • Be aware of the common side effects that may be caused by your medication.

Painful Back Back Exercises

Back stretching exercises for someone with back pain include:

  • Lower neck and upper back stretch:
    • While standing, place your hands together in front of you.
    • Bend your neck and back forward while you keep your knees straight.
    • Reach toward the floor.
  • Seated low-back stretch:
    • Sit on a chair with both feet planted squarely on the floor.
    • Bend over by placing your head between your knees.
    • Touch your fingertips on the floor between your feet.

Perform back and abdominal strengthening exercises after the pain has resolved. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about exercises that are right for you.

Painful Back Pain in Adults

Medications commonly used to control pain and inflammation in adults with back pain include:

  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Adult dosing is 2 regular strength (325 mg) every 4 hours or 2 extra-strength (500 mg) every 6 hours.
  • Maximum dose is 4,000 mg per day.
  • Avoid this drug if you have alcoholism, liver disease or an allergy to the drug. See the package instructions.
  • Common brand names include Tylenol, Panadol, and many others.





NSAID Precautions

Painful Back Pain in Children

Common medications used for pain and fever in children with back pain include:

Aspirin should not be used in children.




Painful Back Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have back pain and any of the following:

Continue to Painful Back Prevention

Last Updated: Dec 1, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Painful Back References
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  2. Coste J, Delecoeuillerie G, et al: Clinical course and prognostic factors in acute low back pain: an inception cohort study in primary care practice. BMJ 1994 Feb 26; 308(6928): 577-80. [8148683]
  3. Hayden J, Tulder M, Malmivaara A, Koes B. Exercise therapy for treatment of non-specific low back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005 Jul 20;(3):CD000335. [16034851]
  4. King HA. Back pain in children. Orthop Clin North Am. 1999 Jul;30(3):467-74, ix. [10393768]
  5. Marriott A, Newman NM, et al: Improving the evaluation of benign low back pain. Spine 1999 May 15; 24(10): 952-60. [10332784]
  6. van Tulder MW, Koes BW, Bouter LM: Conservative treatment of acute and chronic nonspecific low back pain. A systematic review of randomized controlled trials of the most common interventions. Spine 1997 Sep 15; 22(18): 2128-56. [9322325]
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