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Understand Your Back and Body Pain

Chances are your active lifestyle will occasionally be interrupted by back and body pain. In fact, the unexpected burden of back pain is perhaps more common than you might think. While our backs are generally strong and supportive, they’re also one of the body parts most vulnerable to pain. The good news is that more often than not, relief for minor back pain can be found within the comfort of home using simple self-care.


What’s going on back there?

Your search for relief from back and body-related pain is a common one. Truth is that as much as 80% of us will experience back pain during our lifetime. It’s one of the most common reasons for doctor visits and work absences, and is one of the leading causes of disability around the world.

Thankfully, if the pain is minor, there are steps you can take on your own to remedy the discomfort and even help prevent future episodes from interrupting your life. With simple home treatment and proper body mechanics, your acute back pain should resolve within a few days to a few weeks. If your pain is severe, gets worse or lasts longer than 10 days, or if you have any questions about your condition, please consult your doctor right away.

As many as 80% of us will experience back pain, but most of the time you can put it behind you.


Common symptoms of back and body pain

Aches and pain anywhere on the back, neck, shoulders and even down in the buttocks and legs is a not-so-subtle sign of back pain. Neck and lower back pain are more common than upper and middle back pain due to the fact that the bones do not flex as much in this region, but pain can still be an issue with the bodies themselves. Frequent overall back and body pain indicators include:

  • Aching muscles
  • Sharp or stabbing pain
  • Dull pain
  • Pain that radiates down your legs
  • Muscle tightness or stiffness

The two causes of back and body pain

Acute pain is the most common type of back and body pain, which can develop quickly and last six weeks or less. This is generally the result of mechanical issues or soft-tissue damage like muscle strain. Some of the most common causes for acute back and body pain include:

  • Poor posture (i.e., hunched over a smartphone, tablet or PC)
  • Prolonged sitting (places more pressure on the spine than standing or walking)
  • Lifting improperly
  • Heavy backpacks
  • Muscle sprain or strain
  • Injury/trauma
  • Obesity

The less common type is chronic back pain and generally lasts more than three months. If your pain is severe, worsens or lasts longer than 10 days, or if you have any questions about your condition, please consult your doctor right away.


Finding relief at home

The majority of minor lower back pain occurrences can subside with careful attention and at-home remedies. A bit of rest, applying a heat compress or ice pack, and over-the-counter medications like ALEVE® Back & Body Pain can likely have you comfortably back on your feet within a few days. Some of the more frequently recommended home remedies include:


Chill first, then turn up the heat

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To help reduce pain and swelling, apply ice wrapped in a towel early and often to the sore area for up to 20 minutes at a time, several times per day, for the first 48 hours. Avoid applying ice for more than 30 minutes at a time. Once swelling has gone down, apply heat to help relax muscles, relieve pain and reduce stiffness. Consider a warm bath as well.

Take a load off

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For the first 72 hours, take it easy on your sore back. Rest and over-the-counter medications like ALEVE® Back & Body Pain can help relieve minor pain and discomfort. Should your pain persist or even get worse, contact your physician immediately.

Practice proper pillow position

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Pay attention to pillow position, as your head and spine should be in alignment while sleeping. If your pillow elevates your head to the point that it becomes misaligned with your spine, try a new pillow. If you snooze on your back, you do not want your chin pressing into your chest. If sleeping on your side, you don’t want your chin pointing toward your shoulder.

Unload the extra cargo

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If you regularly carry a heavy backpack, purse, briefcase or extra body weight, this additional load — which our bodies are not designed for — can certainly place a burden on your back. Even sitting on an overstuffed wallet can cause spine and muscle misalignment and unnecessary pain. If this sounds like you, consider dropping the unnecessary baggage right away.