Short-term lower back pain generally lasts a few days to a few weeks and is most often due to excess stress on the muscles and joints surrounding the spine. Occasionally, back pain originates from the kidneys, abdomen, or other parts of the body.
- Muscle aches or stabbing pain in lower back
- Limited flexibility or range of motion
- Difficulty standing straight
When to contact a clinician
Frequent, painful, or bloody urination
Severe pain that that limits your ability to function despite self-care
Leg pain that goes below the knee
History of back of spine problems
Pain and inflammation not reduced after 72 hours of self-care
Progressive weakness or numbness in legs
Pain accompanied by fever
Loss of bowel or bladder control
Treatment involves pain relievers, reducing inflammation, restoring proper function and strength to the back, and preventing injury recurrence. Continuing to be as active as possible can help speed your recovery.
At night or while resting, lie on one side, with a pillow between the knees to ease pain and reduce stress on the lower back. Bed rest alone can worsen back pain and lead to complications such as depression, decreased muscle tone, and blood clots in the legs. Resume normal activities as soon as possible.
For short term relief, apply heat with heating pads or heated blankets. Warm baths can also help muscles relax. Avoid sleeping on a heating pad, which can burn and lead to tissue damage.
Trained specialists (such as chiropractors or osteopaths) use spinal manipulation to reduce pain and restore mobility.
Gentle working of the soft tissues can be performed by a massage therapist to help with pain and restore soft tissue mobility.
OTC Pain Relievers
Acetaminophen, naproxen, and ibuprofen can ease pain and reduce stiffness, swelling, or inflammation. Follow the recommended dosage on the label directions when using acetaminophen. The recommended dose for ibuprofen is three 200 mg tablets every four to six hours, taken with food. Do not exceed 2400 mg daily.