Low Back Strain

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Low back strain is an injury to your lower back muscles or tendons. Tendons are strong tissues that connect muscles to bones. The lower back supports most of your body weight and helps you move, twist, and bend.


INSTRUCTIONS:

Medicines:

The following medicines may be ordered by your healthcare provider:

  • NSAIDs: These medicines decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs are available without a doctor's order. Ask your primary healthcare provider which medicine is right for you. Ask how much to take and when to take it. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding and kidney problems if not taken correctly.

  • Muscle relaxers: This medicine helps relax your muscles. It is also given to decrease pain and muscle spasms.

  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Self-care:

  • Rest: You may need to rest in bed after your injury.

  • Activity: Slowly start to increase your activity as the pain decreases, or as directed.

  • Ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your lower back for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.

  • Heat: Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms. Apply heat on your lower back for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed.

Prevent another low back strain:

  • Use correct body movements:

    • Bend at the hips and knees when you pick up objects. Do not bend from the waist. Use your leg muscles as you lift the load. Do not use your back. Keep the object close to your chest as you lift it. Try not to twist or lift anything above your waist.

    • Change your position often when you stand for long periods of time. Rest one foot on a small box or footrest, and then switch to the other foot often.

    • Try not to sit for long periods of time. When you do, sit in a straight-backed chair with your feet flat on the floor.

    • Never reach, pull, or push while you are sitting.

  • Exercise: Warm up before you exercise. Strengthen your back muscles. Ask about the best exercise plan for you.

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Ask your primary healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.

  • Your pain does not go away, even after treatment.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You hear or feel a pop in your lower back.

  • You have increased swelling or pain in your lower back.

  • You have trouble moving your legs.

  • Your legs are numb.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Low Back Strain (Aftercare Instructions)

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