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How to Treat Back Pain

Whether your back pain and backache are new or chronic, it's time to feel better. Find the best treatment that'll bring you back pain relief.

By Janis Graham

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Relief for Sudden Back Pain

Simple do-it-yourself remedies help most back pain sufferers start to feel better within a month's time, according to Timothy S. Carey, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But there are some caveats. For instance, you should call your doctor or head to an emergency room right away if you lose sensation or movement in your legs, you no longer have control of your bladder or bowels, or your pain is absolutely unmanageable. Otherwise, follow these self-treatment tips to find relief fast:

Keep active. When Finnish researchers looked at nearly 200 back pain sufferers three weeks after they were injured, they found that those who went about their ordinary tasks as much as possible missed fewer days of work and experienced less pain than those who climbed into bed. As little as two days of bed rest slowed recovery.

Ice it. During the first two days of discomfort, as often as once an hour, put ice cubes or a package of frozen peas in a resealable bag, wrap in a towel, then place on your back for 15 minutes. Cold applied to strained muscles combats swelling and inflammation, which reduces pain and speeds tissue repair.

Take NSAIDs. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen, make the pain more manageable and reduce inflammation too. Follow the bottle's dosing schedule for three to seven days.

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