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How to Manage Your Back Pain?

Written by
Dr. Ignatius Soon
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Sep 02, 2014 and last reviewed on Nov 02, 2018   -  1 min read


This article explains the reasons for back pain and simple steps to manage it.

How to Manage Your Back Pain?

Low back pain is a very common presenting problem that occurs to most of us. We will surely experience it at some point in our lifetime.

Causes of Simple Back Pain

Management of Simple Back Pain

Bedrest has been shown to be counterproductive. Get up and move as soon as you can and do not keep resting as this will make things worse.

Analgesics (painkillers) in the form of Acetaminophen (Paracetamol), NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen, Meloxicam, Diclofenac etc., can be taken individually or in combination bearing in mind their side effects. Most of these are available over the counter. As a word of caution, avoid using NSAIDs if you have stomach issues.

When to Consult a Doctor?

When to Go to the Emergency Department/Emergency Room?

- If you cannot urinate or open your bowels.

- If painkillers did not work and you get a 7 to 10 scale pain (On a scale of 10, if your pain is more than 7).

- If you get a severe "shooting nerve pain" down the leg especially when you lift up your leg. This may be a sign of sciatica (compression of nerve down your leg) which does not go away with simple painkillers.

For further assistance, consult a spine health specialist or a physiotherapist online -->


Frequently Asked Questions


What Factors Commonly Cause Back Pain?

Strain and sprain to the muscles of the back due to improper lifting of heavy objects, abrupt back movements during exercise or sudden activity, and overstretching usually lead to torn muscles and ligaments. Muscle spasms, injury to the back, disk problems, poor sitting posture, using mattresses with poor spine support, degenerating disks, and ankylosing spondylitis (inflammatory arthritis) are common causes of back pain.


How Do I Know If My Back Pain Is Due to a Disk Problem?

Disk-related back pain presents with a kind of electric pain and weakness or numbness of the legs. There will be consistent pain upon movements and rest. Pain radiates to the buttocks, groin, and legs, causing shooting pain. Pain aggravates while bending forward and returning.


How Do I Know If My Back Pain Is Due to Muscle Problem?

Back pain due to muscle problems is localized (confined to the central back) and does not radiate to other areas. Pain is present with movements and while at rest. It aggravates only while returning from a forward bend and resolves in a few days with rest.


Is Back Pain Serious?

Back pain due to muscle sprain or strain is not so serious as it resolves with rest and medications. But persistent back pain due to problems with the spine (spinal stenosis) and nerve compression (sciatica), pain associated with bowel and bladder incontinence, or sudden leg weakness must not be ignored as they may be because of any underlying organ damage or nerve conditions including cauda equina syndrome (spinal cord nerve damage) necessitating medical management.


Should I Be Concerned About My Back Pain?

Never-ending backaches that do not subside, shooting or electric shock-like pain, back pain accompanied by leg numbness and tingling, and bowel and bladder incontinence in the presence of chronic back pain reveals a hidden root cause like nerve compression, damage, organ damage, spine diseases, etc. They demand concern and must not be mistaken to be normal back pain.


Why Does My Upper Backache While Breathing?

Pain in the upper back while breathing is most commonly due to muscle strain due to overly exerting activities like lifting weights, exercise, and trauma and panic attacks. Other serious causes are pleurisy (infection of the lung’s outer layer), fractured backbone, respiratory infections like pneumonia, heart attack, pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the blood vessels supplying the lungs), lung cancer, and bone conditions like scoliosis.


Which Sleeping Position Helps Lower Back Pain?

The best sleeping position for lower back pain is to lie on your side with a minimal bend to the knees and adding a pillow between the legs. Lying on your side with knees bent and tucked to reach the chest (fetal position) is also a good position.


Does Walking Help Lower Back Pain?

Walking helps in the effective healing of lower back pain. While walking, the muscles of the back strengthen and stretch. This improves the flexibility of the back muscles and ligaments.


Does My Lower Back Pain Need Medical Attention?

Lower back pain of sharp and shooting nature lasting for more than two weeks interrupting your daily activities and sleep, back pain radiating to the legs with numbness of the legs and unintentional weight loss, and accompanied by problems with urination and excretion need immediate medical attention.


Will Any Drink Help Relieve My Back Pain?

Herbal infusions like ginger tea and green tea, turmeric milk, and cherry juice are found to have anti-inflammatory properties and aid in prompt pain relief, along with medications and physiotherapy.


Do Muscle Relaxants Help Relieve Back Pain?

Muscle relaxants are prescribed to relieve back pain of short-term origin. These medications are advised to be taken for a short period in back pain due to muscle spasms. They help improve pain together with physiotherapy.


What Are Some Effective Ways to Relieve Low Backache?

Minimal bed rest, non-exerting physical activity like walking, being active regularly, painkillers, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), sleeping on your side with pillows between your legs and knees bent, maintaining a good posture (straight) while sitting and walking, and applying cool and hot compresses to the back aid in prompt back pain recovery.


Which Painkiller Treats Back Pain Better?

Acetaminophen, along with opioids like Codeine, Ibuprofen, and Aspirin, are the preferred painkillers to treat back pain.

Last reviewed at:
02 Nov 2018  -  1 min read




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