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Managing Neck and Back Pain

Image by Levi Stute

First Time Episode

The odds are in your favor that a first time episode of neck and back pain will resolve within a few weeks even without treatment. In the absence of "red-flag signs," many conservative treatments are effective:

  • Anti-inflammatories

  • Muscle Relaxers

  • Short-term rest

  • Avoiding provocative activities

Image by Ekta Agarwal

Physical Therapy

If home treatments are not effective, consider a trial of physical therapy. Therapy sessions might be 2-3 times a week for 3-6 weeks. 

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Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes at home and work are often effective in managing and preventing recurrences:

  • Ergonomic settings at work

  • Consider standing desk

  • Minimize sitting

  • Take breaks and stretch

  • Weight loss


Massage Therapy

Research studies have shown that the benefits of massage therapy for neck and back pain may last for months

Image by Levi Stute

Moderate Activities

Increasing activity by 17 min in obese patients (BMI > 36) reduces risk of low back pain by 36%. Recommended simple moderate activities:

  • Brisk walking

  • Water Aerobics

  • Recumbent Bike

  • Dancing

Image by Nadine Shaabana

Red-Flag Signs

"Red-flag signs" suggest a serious neck or back problem. If you have neck and back pain with the following symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:

  • arm/hand or leg/foot weakness

  • problems with balance

  • neck & back pain with fevers

  • loss of bowel or bladder control

  • dropping objects from your hands

  • unintentional weight loss

  • pain that does not improve with conservative treatments.

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