Lower back also known as lumbago is a common health concern of all ages which affects our overall well-being and daily activities. The exact cause of back pain is not known but it has been associated with risk factors such as depressive mood, body weight, age, Obesity, and occupational conditions. Low back pain is not a disorder but a symptom of different types of health conditions.

The 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study concluded that low back pain is among the top 10 disorders and injuries that account for the highest number of DALYs (Disability Adjusted Life Year) worldwide which is the sum of years of potential life lost as a result of premature mortality and the years of productive life lost due to disability.

Listed below are the various ways to ease back pain

  • Medication 
  • Better sleep
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage
  • Application of ice or heat
  • Yoga practice
  • Nerve stimulation


Your physician can prescribe the following medication to ease the pain

  • A recent study conducted by doctors in Australia and the Netherlands concluded that tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline were shown to relieve lower back pain for a limited period
  •  Narcotics such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, or morphine can provide short-term relief by attaching themselves to pain receptors in the brain.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen and naproxen may relieve back pain when prescribed by your doctor. 
  • Muscle relaxants can be prescribed by your physician for acute low pain if over-the-counter medication (OTC) does not relieve the pain. This medication causes drowsiness and makes you sleep when taken at night.
  • Applying pain topical agents such as cream and ointment can also ease back pain.

Better Sleep Position

You should be able to determine what works for you. 

  • If you would sleep sideways, put a firm pillow in between your knees to keep your spine aligned and to reduce pressure on your back
  • If you prefer lying on your back, get a comfortable mattress and place a pillow beneath your knees.
  • Lying on your stomach puts pressure on your back and spine. This is because most of the weight is on the middle back and this prevents proper alignment of the spine. If there is a need to sleep in that position, place a pillow underneath your pelvic and lower stomach.

Physical Therapy

Active physical activity helps to reduce stiffness by improving movement and preventing injury. In addition, it stretches, strengthens, and repairs muscles that support the back. Depending on the pain level, your physical therapist examines you and determines the type of exercise that suits the pain.


According to research carried out by the American Massage Therapy Association, massage helps to improve blood circulation which recovers muscle soreness from physical exercise, relaxes muscles for better motion range as well as increases levels of endorphin (Endorphin are chemicals produced by the body that make you feel good).

Application of ice or heat

Applying ice regularly on the affected area can help reduce inflammation caused by the injury. The ice should be wrapped in a cloth to protect your skin from frostbite (when the skin is exposed to extreme cold) and this procedure should be done several times for 20 minutes a day.

The application of a heating pad on the pain area can help relax your muscles as well as increase the flow of blood to the affected area.


  1. Years lived with disability (YLDs) for 1160 sequelae of 289 diseases and injuries 1990-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet, 2012, 380(9859):2163- 96. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61729-2. Erratum in: Lancet, 2013, 381(9867):628. Al Mazroa, Mohammad A. 
  2. Jama Internal Medicine. Efficacy of low dose amitriptyline for chronic low back pain 2018. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2705080
  3. Medline Plus. Taking narcotics for back pain 2019. 
  4. Chaparro LE, Furlan AD, Deshpande A, Mailis-Gagnon A, Atlas S, Turk DC. Opioids compared with placebo or other treatments for chronic low-back pain: an update of the Cochrane Review. Spine. 2014;39(7):556-563. PMID: 24480962. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24480962
  5. WebMed. When you might need a muscle relaxer 2020. https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/do-i-need-a-muscle-relaxer 
  6. Mayo Clinic. Sleeping on your stomach. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/back-pain/multimedia/sleeping-positions/sls-20076452?s=3 
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