Effective treatments for lower back pain include getting rest, applying ice or heat, taking over-the-counter pain relievers and getting exercise, according to WebMD. Persons with significant or prolonged back pain, numbness, unexplained weight loss or other signs of illness are advised to seek physician care as soon as possible.
While resting the back is an important step in dealing with lower back pain, weeks of bed rest encourages stiffness and may not rid the body of pain, claims WebMD. Patients are advised to limit physical activity during the 48 hours following the onset of pain, then slowly increase activity, states Jae Jung, associate professor of orthopaedics at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine.
Applying heat or ice may help to reduce the pain experienced by most patients; while some studies indicate heat may be more beneficial, some patients find more relief with ice.
Over-the-counter pain relievers are also recommended for those experiencing lower back pain, explains WebMD. Acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the most common; topical creams -including Aspercreme, Bengay, Icy Hot and Zostrix- contain active ingredients that effectively work to soothe back pain, explains WebMD.
Exercise helps those suffering from discomfort by helping to maintain mobility. Physical therapists often assign exercises that help to widen the spaces between the vertebrae -to reduce pressure applied to the nerves- and those that stretch the back and hip muscles, while strengthening abdominal muscles.