What can cause low back injuries?
Many things can cause low back injuries-muscle strain or spasm, sprains of ligaments (which attach bone to bone), joint problems or a "slipped disk." The most common cause is using your back muscles in activities you're not used to, like lifting heavy furniture or doing yard work.
A slipped disk happens when the disk between the bones bulges and presses on nerves. This is often caused by twisting while lifting. But many people won't know what caused their slipped disk.
What can I do for relief when I've hurt my lower back?
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.
If you're resting a hurt back, you may need 1 to 2 days of this sort of rest. 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.