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Low Back Strain
WHAT YOU NEED TO 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.
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.
Contact your 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.
The following medicines may be ordered by your healthcare provider:
- Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. 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.
- 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 your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Muscle relaxers help decrease pain and muscle spasms.
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her 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.
- Rest as directed. You may need to rest in bed for a period of time after your injury. Do not lift heavy objects.
- Apply ice on your back for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
- Apply heat on your lower back for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms.
- Slowly start to increase your activity as the pain decreases, or 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.
- Warm up before you exercise. Do exercises that strengthen your back muscles. Ask your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.