Skip to Content

Chronic Back Pain, Ambulatory Care

Chronic back pain

is back pain that lasts 3 months or longer. This may include pain that has not been controlled or does not improve with treatment. Your back pain may cause weakness or pain that spreads to your arms or legs.

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain
  • New signs of numbness or weakness, especially in your lower back, legs, arms, or genital area
  • Unable to control of your bladder or bowel movements
  • A fever or sudden weight loss

Treatment for chronic back pain

may include any of the following:

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
  • Muscle relaxers help decrease muscle spasms and back pain.

Manage your chronic back pain:

  • Apply heat on your back for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms.
  • Stay active as much as you can without causing more pain. Ask your healthcare provider what exercises are right for you. Do not sit or lie down for long periods. This could make your back pain worse. Avoid heavy lifting until your pain is gone.
  • Go to physical therapy as directed. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may be referred to a sports medicine or spine specialist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

© 2016 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.

Hide