Back Pain Archive


Acetaminophen safety: Be cautious but not afraid

The pain reliever acetaminophen is safe when used correctly, but people can become very ill or die if they take too much.

What should you do when sciatica flares?

It may take a combination of approaches to ease the discomfort of a sciatica flare-up. Strategies include staying active, modifying activities to make them less demanding on the back, stretching, using hot or cold therapy, meditating, and using oral or topical painkillers. If the flare-up lasts longer than a week or two and isn't responding to home remedies, it's time to make a doctor appointment. The doctor might order imaging tests and prescribe a prescription anti-inflammatory drug, such as oral or injected prednisone.

Why does my back ache?

Back pain symptoms can vary widely, ranging from a dull, ongoing ache to intense, shooting pain or spasms. Often, back pain is due to pulls or strains in muscles and soft tissues. Other times, it's caused by inflammation or problems with spinal discs or bones. Most cases of muscular back pain ease with time and home-based treatments such as gentle movement, anti-inflammatory pain relievers, and heat and ice. Physical therapy to strengthen core muscles can also help. People whose back pain is severe or doesn't resolve after three to four weeks should see a doctor.

Managing back pain

Most acute back pain happens because of weak muscles related to aging and inactivity. Symptoms usually last a few days, but pain and stiffness sometimes linger for a couple of weeks or longer. Frequent episodes can make people less active, as they are fearful about straining their back. Managing acute back pain is a two-step approach. First, treat the pain with over-the-counter remedies, cold and heat therapy, and rest, and then strengthen the back muscles and improve flexibility to prevent recurrent back pain episodes.

Don't take back pain sitting down

Pain when sitting can be caused by a number of common problems, including problems with the discs that cushion the vertebrae in the back. Lying down can help the pain temporarily, but the goal should be to get up and move as soon as possible. People should see a doctor if your pain is extremely severe, if it comes back after getting better, or if it occurred after an injury.

Try this: Roll with it

Foam rolling is a simple technique to help relieve soreness and tightness in muscle areas like the calves, thighs, buttocks, and back.

Reduce or avoid back pain during these everyday activities

A number of strategies can help when back pain strikes suddenly. When driving, for example, a person can turn on heated seats if a vehicle has them, or use a lumbar pillow. Someone who has pain when sitting at a desk can get up, walk around, and do some stretches. If back pain lasts more than a week, the person should see a doctor for an evaluation. The first line of defense will most likely be exercise and strengthening regimens—two keys to staving off an aching back.

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