Relieving Back Pain

Back pain is a common problem. You can strain back muscles by lifting too much weight or just by moving the wrong way. Back strain can be uncomfortable, even painful. And it can take weeks or months to improve. To help yourself feel better and prevent future back strains, try these tips.

Important: Don't give aspirin to children or teens without first discussing it with your child's healthcare provider.


Closeup of hands wrapping ice pack in towel.

Ice reduces muscle pain and swelling. It helps most during the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury.

  • Wrap an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas in a thin towel. Never put ice directly on your skin.

  • Place the ice where your back hurts the most.

  • Don’t ice for more than 20 minutes at a time.

  • You can use ice several times a day.


Over-the-counter pain relievers include acetaminophen and anti-inflammatory medicines, which includes aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen. They can help ease discomfort. Some also reduce swelling.

  • Tell your healthcare provider about any medicines you are already taking.

  • Take medicines only as directed.

Manipulation and massage

Having manipulation by an osteopathic doctor or chiropractor may be helpful. Getting a massage also may help. 


After the first 48 hours, heat can relax sore muscles and improve blood flow.

  • Try a warm bath or shower. Or use a heating pad set on low. To prevent a burn, keep a cloth between you and the heating pad.

  • Don’t use a heating pad for more than 15 minutes at a time. Never sleep on a heating pad.