questionshow do you treat back pain?


I use heat pads at work, biofreeze at home, and yoga and chiropractics in between.

Also, massage chairs are good, and when all else fails, ibuprofen. Not that it would be my first choice, nor have I had it done, but I've had friends who were successful treating with steroid injections. Nothing like a needle in the back to help chronic pain :/


Rest. And a muscle relaxer and an anti-inflammatory. And more rest. Pain killers may help you feel better, but you might feel so much better that you won't rest and actually make the injury worse by being too active.


Neither aspirin nor Tylenol. You want an ibuprofen product such as Advil or Motrin. Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory and will actually help with the problem in addition to easing pain. I have a cracked vertebrae and my doctor has me take 800mg prescription ibuprofen every 6 hours around the clock for a week when I aggravate it. He's told me if it happens on the weekend and I can't get a prescription, just take three 200mg pills every 6 hours instead.

The damage is in my lower back at the curve. The best way I have of preventing a flare-up is to elevate my feet as much as possible. I put one foot on the dash when riding in the car, I put my feet on my trash can under my desk most of the work day, etc. Keeping that curve stretched out as much as possible helps a lot. Regular exercise, keeping my weight down and using proper lifting techniques also helps.

I tried the salonpas patches, Minor help, major allergic reaction to the adhesive. My heated vibro-massage pad helps.


When I had an inflammed disc in my back, my PT made me read a book called "Treat your own back" and had me do some exercises out of it. I was a little skeptical at first but it worked and my back pain (which was also causing hip and knee pain) went away. I've continued to do some of the stretches and with the addition of abs and core work at the gym, particularly some back extensions, I've had no problems with my back in years.
A friend of mine swears by deadlifts (done with perfect form) to keep her back from having problems.

Apparently a lot of muscle related back pain is caused by weak core/ab muscles. Seems kinda counter intuitive to be doing sit-ups to heal a bad back, but it works.


I feel your pain, I truly do. I injured my back a few years ago while attempting to lift my mother up from the floor, after she had taken a tumble. She was okay. I now have a back that acts up every so often. When this happens, the pain is so bad that I can't stand up straight. I can almost drag my knuckles on the floor when I walk. My ape ancestors would be proud.

So, the good news, as my doctor says, the pain will probably fully go away--in 6 weeks. But it's the first week or so that that the pain can be excruciating. I take ibuprofen and yes, I use the salonpas patches. I didn't think the patches would work, but they do for me.

Maybe someone else here will have a "miracle cure" for you. Good luck!


Here is what the evidence based recommendations say:

1) Maintain your activities as much as possible. Go to work, try to maintain social and family life. You may not be able to do heavy lifting, but that doesn't excuse you from going to the grocery store.

2) Non narcotic pain relievers. NSAIDS may (not are, but may) be superior to acetominophen, but unclear as it depends upon the etiology.

3) Avoid bed rest. It prolongs disability.

4) Aerobic exercise when you are able, followed by some sort of rehabilitation and back exercises.

Things like acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic adjustments are (in my book at least) somewhat controversial. There is evidence to support and not support. It depends upon how strongly you feel about it and (honestly) how much you are willing to pay. If you are a huge believer in chiropractic and can affort the treatments then go for it.


I use Neproxin (Allieve) (not sure if that is how you spell either) and an inversion table I bought recently. The inversion table won't help for all kinds of back pain but it helps me. It helps to stretch out your spine which can really help with back pain.


i've been getting back pain in recent years. i use asprin and certain "herbal" remedies can do wonders if its caused by stress or tension. i know its bad, but sometimes i have my wife walk up and down my spine to "crack" it. like i said, i know thats bad, but if insurance would cover a chiropractor, i would happily do that instead.


@dogbountyhunter1: I have had many things recommended by my doctor and one was to never, ever, go to a chiropractor.

Here's my list of things attempted to relieve back pain (medicine is not my thing so there could be some misspellings):
Lumbar Lamenectomy
Steroid Packs

Pain is pretty much in control but I'm still being told to stay away from the chiropractors.


@cengland0: of course he is telling you to stay away. just like your dealership will tell you go get all maintenance done with them and never do it yourself or take it to a mom and pop shop. i know too many people who have been helped by a chiropractor to believe they don't know what they are doing. guy i work with got hit by a drunk driver and had chronic back pain for a month before going to a chiro. once or twice he did come back from his appointment feeling worse than before, but in the long run it helped him immensely


A quick comment on something @gt0163c said: deadlifts done poorly will mess you up. And by "you" I mean "me." I powerlift and deadlifts are the hardest part because once it gets really heavy, my form starts to go and I strain my back. Rookie mistakes. :)

You might also try a foam roller, basically a long round piece of styrofoam (or PVC pipe if you can handle it) and roll the trouble area over it, putting as much pressure on it as you can stand. There are some videos on Youtube that show what I mean.

I've used foam rollers or lacrosse balls to loosen up some trouble spots and while it hurts like hell when you do it, it really does help.

Lastly, couple people have mentioned core strength. I agree it's essential, as is keeping your hamstrings nice and flexible.

And when all else fails: lortab is my friend.


@ndcouch: I must disagree with your comment. My primary care doctor does not make any different amount of money if he refers me to a chiropractor versus a neurosurgeon. My primary care doctor does not make any money off the prescriptions either. What motives do you think he has to not recommend a chiropractor -- in other words, what's in it for him?


Add another vote for a Chiropractor. While you haven't specifically said so, I get the impression you are going with your Doctors advice not to see a Chiropractor. Here's a question back to you: Why do you agree with your doctor on this?

I'm 100% certain there are some bad Chiropractors out there. Just like I'm 100% certain there are bad brain surgeons, mechanics, muffin bakers and any other profession you can think of.

However, there are far more good ones. I've been to a couple who have helped me a great deal. Other friends/family have also been to see them and had fantastic success.

BTW - most Chiropractors agree with you that meds aren't the way to go.

If all these things you've listed so far haven't worked - why rule out any option? Especially one that has worked for many?


I lifted something while I was 7 months pregnant and screwed up my lower back (left side). I thought I'd just pulled a muscle since my ligaments were softer (due to the pregnancy itself). Turns out it was much worse than I'd thought, and waited too long to get help. My doctor sent me to physical therapy, where they had me do numerous stretches and exercises for my back. That was over a year ago. The stretches make a huge difference in the amount of pain I have, and how active I can be.

Most people think any kind of exercise will aggravate the issue when, in fact, it helps diminish it. Especially if you do them every day (preferably morning , when you tend to be more stiff). I can tell the difference when I get slack about it. I move more stiffly throughout my day, and by evening I can barely stand at the stove long enough to make dinner. If I start hurting during the day, I might take some Aleve, but I also do a couple of stretches to help get me moving again.


Ibuprofin all the way for a pulled (strained) back, imo. Did it a month or so ago digging lawn equipment off my porch and ibuprofin (~800mg a day) made all the difference between "it hurts when I move" and close to "life as usual." Don't make the same mistake I did though, if you have to lift something (especially when at an awkward position or angle) stretch first, it can save you a lot of pain down the line.

It really depends on what the issue with your back is though and your age/circumstance. When you're younger (only mid 20s here) a bit of stretching is usually all the preventative needed, as you get older and your body wears it gets a bit worse. But as some others have said Ibuprofin doesn't act so much to just block the pain but actually treats the muscles and lets them relax and heal.


Here is a link I found that has some of the exercises I learned at physical therapy. You can also find videos on YouTube if you search words/phrases such as "stretches, exercises, lower back pain, core strengthening".


When I don't have time for anything else, I always do the "bird dog" stretch. It gives quick relief, even if only temporary. But I know we all have different degrees of you'll have to find what works best for you.
Good luck!


You are not very specific about your back pain, I understand that it may be generic. I would suggest that you make certain it is not due to a specific issue if the pain continues or gets worse. No one wants to see the doctor or a big bill. but chronic back pain should be checked out.

That said, anti-inflammatory agents are essential, as discussed above.

While heat may feel good and be relaxing, cold packs may keep down inflammation. You have to decide whether your issue is inflammation or cramped muscles.

I second a program of muscle strengthening. The back is supported by a network of abdominal muscles. Strengthening the entire trunk can help release localized strains.

If chronic muscle pain continues, look at TENS units. The Trans-cutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulus units can help temper back pain by "exhausting" the nerves, limiting the pain signals.

Best of luck.


For my lower back, I have a leg wedge that I'll use at night that takes the pressure off my back while I sleep.


Unless you know the exact cause, SEE A DOCTOR! I tried to treat it myself for a year or so, then went to a chiropractor which helped somewhat with the occasional flareups - but when I finally realized the flareups weren't stopping and had an MRI I found I had 3 herniated discs. Who knows for how long and what additional damage I'd done. I finally went to a highly recommened ortho and he sent me to PT which made a world of difference. I was virually pain free. And then I had a minor flare up combined with the stomach flu (avoid that at all costs) and now I can barely stand for more than 20 minutes. The PT excercises are helping and lots of laying down. Also - ice and ibuprofen.


@cengland0: what kind of back pain do you have? I mean what is causing it? that's some pretty heavy duty stuff.

@gred57vw and everyone here...please, go to a doctor if you hurt your back, don't go to random internet people

no matter how much you trust someone, the odds that you have the exact same problem and react the same way to things are basically zilch

do you even know what kind of back pain you have? if you do not/can't go to a doctor yet:

*do NOT take an unprescribed narcotic or an old prescription without SEEING or SPEAKING to your DOCTOR
*the same goes for the psychotropic meds. if your doctor does want to prescribe one, you may want to see if you can see a psychiatrist for medication management. these drugs go into your brain and mess about with the brain chemistry, so it's good to have someone who knows the drugs and the brain well on hand. your doses may need adjusting, you may need to be switched to something similar, this is all best done by a psychiatrist.


*anything OTC (pills, patches, etc)--read and follow instructions carefully. keep track of what you're using and making sure that they don't interact. and if you're still having pain by the time it says to see your doctor, SEE YOUR DOCTOR
*motion is lotion, but listen to your body. IF you have muscle spasms (or various other things), not moving is one of the worst things you can do. but if when you move, you're not just getting an aching sensation, but the kind of pain that tells you to stop moving--the kind you can overcome but feel in your gut like something isn't quite right--listen to that feeling. listen to your body and don't try and talk yourself into moving or doing what you need to do, SEE THE DAMN DOCTOR.
*heat and cold-are used for different things, so it's hard to recommend either without knowing what's wrong, which brings me back to SEE THE DOCTOR. I recommend clay for cold and plug-in for hot. Follow instructions & be careful-especially if you have lessened sensation


*if you see a chiropractor, make sure that it is someone who has safety as a top priority. there are good chiropractors who won't proceed without x-rays, etc, and who inform you that they can help with short term pain, but they can't fix long term problems. Anyone who tries to get you to come regularly or set up a "healing program" is after your money. If a chiropractor tries to help you as much as possible but see you as little as possible, that's generally a sign of honesty. If you're going to see one, do some research about chiropractors, and come prepared with questions to ask about what practices are used, etc. Don't feel shy about interviewing the doctor or the staff. The staff should be well versed in the doctor's practice and be able to answer billing and insurance questions.


Chiropractors are not evil, but they can do a lot of harm. So can anyone else let have access to your body in order to help you. That's part of the nature of the medical profession. Want to know what an radiology tech can do to you if they screw up? You have to trust these people, and so it's your job to make sure you're surrounded by good doctors, and know as much about your medical situation as possible, tests your going to have, the meds you take, what it means when a chiropractor says that they use a particular method.

You are also one of the people who can hurt you. It's not all on the docs here. You have to give them full and correct information and do your part of the job. Take medications, do exercises--whatever you're part is. You need to report back symptoms, tell doctors when you take OTC meds and who your other doctors are so they can communicate with each other. You have a substantial job and you need to do it, or let someone know that you can't or are having trouble.


And like anyone in any profession, chiropractors can leech you for your money under false pretenses. That's not unique to chiropractors or even the medical field. The same way you check references for contractors and oversee their work and fire them if there is a problem, it's just as much your responsibility to make sure that you have good doctors seeing you for the right reasons. You need to be just as aware of your treatment plans, be able to notice and try to correct problems, and fire them if necessary. Why wouldn't you watch whose treating your body with the same care you do whose treating your house?

Remember to ask the doctor heading your care about adding any new treatment, they may have an opinion or referral or want to make sure you have scans and information that might be needed.

OK, I'm done. But seriously, forum people go see doctors and stop self-diagnosing/treating. Just because back pain is common doesn't mean it shouldn't be looked at and treated properly.


I'm a fan of chiropractors, that being said, whenever I'm out of town or can't get to mine right away, I use the Miracle Ball Method.

It enables me to relax and uses your body weight to adjust yourself. Sometimes it hurts at first, but once I'm through the routine I always feel better.

My brother makes like a bat and hangs upside down on his inversion table, I don't care for it though.


@gt0163c: I tried the same thing, but mine needed surgery. I have heard of many others fixing themselves using the stuff from the book though, and i've recommended it to many. 10 years later, I'm doing great and have had no real issues since.


If it isn't too painful, try doing muscle strengthening excercises especially for the lower back. Also swimming is very good.

I have minor scoliosis and swimming and a few simple exercises helped me quite a bit.


@barnabee: Same thing here. About every year and a half to two years. The first week I'm using a walker and sleeping in the recliner because trying to raise up from a supine position is excruciating. The next few weeks walking bent over. Doesn't hurt, just can't straighten up without severe pain. Went to a chiropractor recommended by my doctor during one episode. Three times a week, then twice a week, etc. Seemed to take the same amount of time to clear up as when I didn't go to one.


Great info. Thank you all.


@sskarstad: Yeah, the stuff in the book seems to be a good "do it yourself, might as well give it a try" first round for treating back pain. It seems to help a lot of people. Unfortunately not everything. But glad that you're doing well.


Via Research:

Hippocrates advised: "Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases." -

"The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease." -

Chiropractors are doctors of the nervous system, to which all things are connected. Chiropractors spend many hours (documented to be more than medical doctors) on all aspects of the human body (anatomy, physiology, chemistry, neurology, pathology, infectious disease, etc). What do they lack compared to medical physicians? The invasive procedures such as surgery and the prescription-based solutions.

Research of medical journals (via PubMed) finds general practitioners highly recommend chiropractic care. Why? Low Back Pain (LBP) is effectively helped by chiropractic care.


The problem in this day and age is people want a quick fix and usually via a pill (muscle relaxer, NSAID, etc). We poison our bodies daily, with our poor dietary choices, overuse of drugs and lack of exercise.

I think any avenue followed to help alleviate pain is desirable, but at the same time, the body is an amazing machine.

Give the body a chance to heal and it will surprise you!

(I'm not a doctor nor do I play one on TV or elsewhere...perhaps one day though!)