How to relieve and prevent lower back pain

Painful lower back muscle strain afflicts almost everyone at some time. Rest, heat, and pain-relieving medication are the basic treatments. A half-hour soak in warm water, lying on a firm mattress, or applying a heating pad to the small of the back may help. Aspirin or acetaminophen may relieve pain. Severe or recurring pain can be caused by a wide range of physical or psychological ailments. See your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Preventing backache Episodes of acute muscle spasm are often brought on by too great an effort, especially when lifting, or by sudden, awkward motions. To avoid such episodes, let your leg muscles do most of the work of lifting. Bend your knees and hold the object being lifted close to your body. If you are prone to backaches, avoid games like tennis that demand abrupt movements.

Chronic backache, when there has been no spine injury or illness, is a signal that your back can’t take the way you are treating it. If you are overweight, your back maybe supporting too great a burden-go on a diet. Another cause might be slumping posture. Learn to hold your back straight (see Posture), sleep on a firm mattress, and sit on hard, straight chairs.

Weak abdominal and back muscles due to lack of activity can also cause backaches. If your work requires you to sit for long periods, get up and walk about every hour or so. Better yet, undertake an exercise program, worked out with a doctor or physical therapist, to strengthen muscles.