Health Tips

Activities - How to Handle Back Pain at Home

A common misconception about back pain is that you need to rest and avoid activity for a long time. In fact, bed rest is NOT recommended. If you have no sign of a serious cause for your back pain (such as loss of bowel or bladder control, weakness, weight loss, or fever), then you should stay as active as possible.

From the time you wake in the morning until you return back to bed, including changes in sleeping position, you are responsible for adhering to proper bodily positioning and body mechanics.

Here are some tips for how to handle back pain and activity early on:


  • Stop normal physical activity only for the first few days. This helps calm your symptoms and reduce any swelling (inflammation) in the area of the pain.

  • Apply heat or ice to the painful area. One good method is to use ice for the first 48 to 72 hours, then use heat after that.

  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

  • Sleep in a curled-up, fetal position with a pillow between your legs. If you usually sleep on your back, place a pillow or rolled towel under your knees to relieve pressure.

  • Do NOT perform activities that involve heavy lifting or twisting of your back for the first 6 weeks after the pain begins.

  • Avoid exercise in the days right after the pain begins. After 2 to 3 weeks, however, slowly begin to exercise again (it's helpful to get advice from a physical therapist). You can start getting back to regular activities after a few days

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