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Most back pain will heal with conservative treatment in 2 to 3 days. Patients often do best when they stay active and perform normal activities as soon as possible, even if there is still some pain. One goal of treatment is to help find ways to control the pain and allow you to continue to complete your normal activities. Please ask your physician before starting any treatment.

Bed Rest

In cases of severe pain, doctors may suggest bed rest that usually lasts no more than 2 to 3 days. This is because lying on your back can take pressure off sore discs and nerves; the lapse in pain will give you some relief and strength to get back to your normal activities faster.

Back Brace

A back brace is sometimes recommended when back pain first occurs. It provides support to the back muscles and decreases the pressure inside problem discs. Patients are encouraged to gradually discontinue wearing the support belt over a period of 2 to 4 days or else the back muscles begin to rely on the belt and start to atrophy.


There is no medication that will completely fix low back pain. Medications are primarily prescribed to help control pain, inflammation, and muscle spasm.


There are several different types of spinal injections that your doctor may suggest depending on your condition. Injections usually incorporate a mixture of an anesthetic and cortisone preparation.

Physical Therapy

For acute back pain, you may be prescribed a few weeks of physical therapy. At first, the physical therapist may apply various forms of treatment to address your symptoms. To help reduce pain and muscle spasm, your therapist may apply heat or ice packs or even electrical stimulation.

Active rehabilitation reduces the possibility that back pain will become a chronic issue. However, you should be cautioned not to try to do too much, too quickly, you should have a guided approach in your return to your usual activities. Your physical therapist should also show you safe body mechanics to help you protect your low back as you complete your daily routine. As you recover, you should slowly advance in a series of strengthening exercises for the abdominal and low back muscles. This is because working these core muscles will help you begin moving easier and reduces the chances of future pain.

All patient education materials are provided by and have been reviewed by our Advisory Board of leading Orthopedic Surgeons to ensure accuracy. All materials are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from your orthopedic surgeon. Any medical decisions should be made after consulting a qualified physician. This site includes links to other web sites. takes no responsibility for the content or information contained in the linked sites.

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Washington Joint Institute

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