Acute Back Pain Advice

If you are in the first 7 days after a back injury, the following advice may help you to control your symptoms and encourage good recovery.


In the early stages (Day 1-3) you may not be able to stand straight or sit comfortably, at this time resting in the most comfortable lying position you can find may help. Try lying on your back with pillows supporting your knees in a bent position or lying on your side (if pain is one sided, lie on the pain free side). Remain lying only for short periods (about ½ hour at the most), alternating with short periods of moving around.

When you move around at night time or when you get up in the morning aim to keep your back straight by log rolling as demonstrated.



You may have been advised to avoid sitting, this means that you may sit for meals and whilst using the toilet but otherwise lie down on the bed, sofa or the floor. As quickly as possible try to take increasing longer walks, once or twice a day. However, keep to a minimum if this aggravates your pain or you have been told to avoid this activity.

Standing for long periods eg. ironing, cooking, using a laptap at a worktop is likely to aggravate your pain. Try to break up periods of standing still by walking around. Research shows that moving around regularly is good for early back pain. Moving smoothly and correctly between sitting, standing and lying will help avoid sudden pains.



Take medication as advised by your GP or pharmacist. Take the dose as advised. If you have side effects from the medication, contact your GP to discuss changing your medication.



Finding a comfortable sleeping position may be difficult and you may have disturbed nights in the early stages. Try sleeping in the positions you find the most comfortable to rest in during the day. You may need to use pillows to support under your legs. If the bed feels too soft you may need to try a different bed in the house or try sleeping on a mattress or on the floor.


Other ways to relieve pain

In the first 2-3 days ice packs may relieve the pain (a bag of frozen peas or crushed ice wrapped in a thin towel on the painful area for 10-15 minutes). Otherwise you may prefer to use heat to relieve the pain (use   a hot water bottle or microwaveable heat pack for up to ½ hour). Remember to be careful to avoid burns.