Oh, My Aching Back

A major culprit is low back pain, and in my book it’s one of the worst things possible! My low back trouble began during my first pregnancy. It was no surprise that my back became weakened by the “heavy load” I was carrying around, and one little twist the wrong way would have me on the floor crying in pain.

Well, two years later and things still have not gotten any better. In fact, this weekend has found me on the couch with a bad backache. I made a wrong move in the wrong direction that greatly affected my back muscles. The first day wasn’t so bad; I just felt a little sore. But by the next morning I could hardly move––let alone stand up straight. So, I’ve been doing the normal routine (rest, apply heat, and take ibuprofen). Luckily, my husband has been kind enough to give me massages with the typical over-the-counter muscle rubs, which have brought some relief too.

I’m sure at some point in your life you’ve also experienced some lower back pain. If so, you know just what kind of grief it can cause. It’s definitely not fun! Since I’m still suffering, I thought it would be a good idea to learn a little more about low back pain and how to prevent it. That way maybe this won’t happen again . . . I  hope!

So, the following information is taken from the American Academy of Family Physicians at www.familydoctor.org .

Low Back Pain: Tips on Pain Relief and Prevention

What can I do for relief when I’ve hurt my lower back?

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The best position for relief when your back hurts is to lie on your back on the floor with pillows under your knees, with your hips and knees bent and your feet on a chair, or just with your hips and knees bent. This takes the pressure and weight off your back.

You may need 1 to 2 days of this sort of rest for a hurt back. Resting longer than this can cause your muscles to weaken, which can slow your recovery. Even if it hurts, walk around for a few minutes every hour.

What else can I do for relief?

Heating pads can help to relax painful muscle spasms. Use heat for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Ice packs and massages may also give relief.

Nonprescription medicines that reduce pain or swelling include aspirin, acetaminophen (brand name: Tylenol), naproxen (brand name: Aleve), ketoprofen (brand name: Orudis), and ibuprofen (brand name: Motrin).


Call your family doctor if:

  • Pain goes down your leg below your knee
  • Your leg, foot, groin or rectal area feels numb
  • You have fever, nausea or vomiting, stomachache, weakness or sweating
  • You lose control over going to the bathroom
  • Your pain was caused by an injury
  • Your pain is so intense you can’t move around
  • Your pain doesn’t seem to be getting better after 2 to 3 weeks

The best position for relief when your back hurts is to lie on your back on the floor with pillows under your knees, with your hips and knees bent and your feet on a chair, or just with your hips and knees bent. This takes the pressure and weight off your back.

You may need 1 to 2 days of this sort of rest for a hurt back. Resting longer than this can cause your muscles to weaken, which can slow your recovery. Even if it hurts, walk around for a few minutes every hour.

What else can I do for relief?

Heating pads can help to relax painful muscle spasms. Use heat for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Ice packs and massages may also give relief.

Nonprescription medicines that reduce pain or swelling include aspirin, acetaminophen (brand name: Tylenol), naproxen (brand name: Aleve), ketoprofen (brand name: Orudis), and ibuprofen (brand name: Motrin).


Call your family doctor if:

  • Pain goes down your leg below your knee
  • Your leg, foot, groin or rectal area feels numb
  • You have fever, nausea or vomiting, stomachache, weakness or sweating
  • You lose control over going to the bathroom
  • Your pain was caused by an injury
  • Your pain is so intense you can’t move around
  • Your pain doesn’t seem to be getting better after 2 to 3 weeks

Tips for preventing back strain

  • Don’t lift by bending over. Lift an object by bending your knees and squatting to pick up the object. Keep your back straight and hold the object close to your body. Avoid twisting your body while lifting.
  • Push rather than pull when you must move heavy objects.
  • If you must sit at your desk or at the wheel of a car or truck for long hours, break up the time with stops to stretch.
  • Wear flat shoes or shoes with low heels (1 inch or lower).
  • Exercise regularly. An inactive lifestyle contributes to lower back pain.

What’s the best position for sleeping?

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The best way to sleep is on your side with your knees bent. You may put a pillow under your head to support your neck. You may also put a pillow between your knees.
If you sleep on your back, put pillows under your knees and a small pillow under your lower back. Don’t sleep on your stomach unless you put a pillow under your hips.

Use a firm mattress. If your mattress is too soft, use a board of 1/2-inch plywood under the mattress to add support.

What exercises can I do to strengthen my back?

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Some specific exercises can help your back. One is to gently stretch your back muscles. Lie on your back with your knees bent and slowly raise your left knee to your chest. Press your lower back against the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Relax and repeat the exercise with your right knee.

Do 10 of these exercises for each leg, switching legs.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to trade this aching back in and get moving. I think this information is just the ticket I need to do just that.

 http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/pain/treatment/117.html