First Time User? Sign Up Now
First Time User? Enroll now.
Home > Health Library > First Aid for Low Back Pain
Use these tips when your back aches.
If you can, walk for 10 to 20 minutes at a time every 2 to 3 hours. Walk on level surfaces, not on hills or stairs. Walk quickly if you can, and swing your arms as you walk.
Lying down for too long can make back pain worse. Sitting can make it worse too. Change positions every 30 minutes. If you must sit for long periods of time, take breaks. Get up and walk around, or lie flat to gently stretch your back.
Exercise helps low back pain. Learn about some exercises you can try:
When you do lie down, protect your back on the way down. And learn the sleeping positions that protect your back.
There is no rule about using heat or ice for back pain. You can try each to see which works best for you.
Pain medicine can help you recover from low back pain by controlling pain during rest and activity. For best results:
Ask your doctor if you can take over-the-counter pain medicine. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen seem to work best for low back pain. But if you can't take NSAIDs, you can try acetaminophen (Tylenol, for example). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
If you have been prescribed a muscle relaxant, carefully follow your doctor's advice.
Most of the time you'll be able to handle low back pain at home. But there may be times when you need to call your doctor, or even 911. For more information, see the When to Call a Doctor section of the topic Low Back Pain.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Current as ofFebruary 23, 2018
Current as of:
February 23, 2018
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
UNC Medical Center
101 Manning Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
UNC Health Care Citrix
UNC Medical Center Intranet
Copyright 2018 UNC Health Care. All rights reserved.