How To Manage Lower Back Pain at Home: 12 Helpful Tips

Dr. Constantine Toumbis

09 February 2021

Lower back pain is one of the most common types of pain — the American Chiropractic Association estimates that 80% of people will experience it at some point in their lives. Its intensity, however, can vary from minor discomfort to a serious, debilitating condition. 

No matter what your specific experience, there are a range of ways to manage lower back pain. Read on as we examine 12 lifestyle swaps and treatments you can easily try at home, as well as when it’s time to consult a doctor.

Activities That Can Exacerbate Back Pain

Before you experiment with home remedies, consider how certain lifestyle choices could be causing or exacerbating your pain — this valuable information can be helpful to both you and your doctor as you work to find relief.

Your Job

As you may have guessed, jobs in construction, landscaping or anything involving physical labor can trigger back pain. But even office jobs can be an issue, especially if you find yourself sitting for long amounts of time. Careers in nursing, teaching, restaurants and other industries can also cause problems if you’re standing for most of your shift.

If you suspect your job is causing or worsening your back pain, try these simple tips.


If Your Job Involves…


Lifting or working with heavy items

  • Lifting things with your legs (never with your back)
  • Limiting the weight of loads whenever possible, especially if you’re recovering from back pain

Sitting for lengthy amounts of time

  • Getting up for five or more minutes every hour to move around and stretch
  • Purchasing an ergonomic chair and desk, which can keep your spine aligned and prevent further pain

Standing for lengthy amounts of time

  • Sitting down every chance you get, preferably in a sturdy chair instead of an unsupportive couch or armchair
  • Limiting the amount of exertion you’re putting on your body outside of work, especially if you’re experiencing pain


Your Health

Pre-existing conditions like being overweight, smoking or eating high amounts of processed food can put you more at risk for back injury and pain. Any steps you can take to improve your overall health will have a ripple effect throughout your entire body — including your lower back.

Your Posture

Most of us spend large amounts of our days sitting, an extremely common time to exhibit poor posture. Slouching or spending hours bent over a laptop or phone can wreak havoc on your spine. 

To remedy this, picture an invisible thread running from the top of your head to the ceiling. Try to keep it as long and straight as possible. Keep both feet on the floor versus crossing your legs or propping them up.

Poor posture can also occur when standing in one spot for an extended amount of time. If you find yourself standing for long stretches, try to keep your back straight and your weight balanced between both feet.

Your Workout (or Lack of One)

The benefits of regular exercise are undeniable. However, workouts that are too strenuous or cause excess pressure on your joints can result in injury or pain. If you’re experiencing lower back pain, consider gentler exercise or work with a physical therapist or spinal specialist to create a safe workout plan. Rather than being mostly sedentary and then bursting into high-intensity activity for a short time, try to stay active throughout the day to mitigate risk.

Lack of regular exercise can increase chances of back pain, as well. A strong core can help counter any strain on your lower back, preventing injury. Consider low-impact movement and simple strength exercises to build your fitness level.

Your Bag

Many of us carry a bag around during the day, and carrying the wrong kind can create problems for your spine. You may be experiencing lower back pain if your bag is:

  • Too heavy
  • Carried on one shoulder
  • Put on and taken off multiple times of day
  • Lacking shoulder and/or lumbar padding


If this describes your everyday bag, swap it for an ergonomic backpack or rolling bag.

Your Mattress

If you prefer your mattress ultra soft or ultra firm, you may be putting yourself at risk for back pain. A mattress with medium firmness is the best for spinal health. Replace it at least every 7 years to avoid lumps and bumps that occur when your mattress is past its prime.

Home Remedies

In addition to removing the above elements from your lifestyle, you may want to experiment with a variety of home remedies for your back pain. The good news is the majority of these treatments are affordable and easy to obtain. Try combining one or two based on your personal experience to see what provides the best results.

Hot and Cold Therapy

Applying heat and cold directly to your lower back is one of the most tried-and-true ways to find relief. Heated options include a heating pad, warm bath and adhesive warming patches. For cold therapy, use an ice pack or even an ice bath. Consider alternating between hot and cold for maximum results. Always be sure to protect your skin from the direct heat or cold.


Over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen, naproxen, aspirin and ibuprofen can provide temporary relief from lower back pain. As with any medication, read the dosage and safety information thoroughly before using, and if you have any questions or concerns, consult your doctor.


Any type of pain could be a sign your body isn’t getting the right nutrients. Vitamins and supplements can remedy this, but the best way to absorb nutrients is through a well-balanced diet. Consider adopting an anti-inflammatory diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean protein (like fish and chicken) and healthy fats (like nuts and olive oil).


If you’re experiencing back pain, you may be tempted to sit or lie down more than usual, but staying in bed can actually make your symptoms worse. Keep moving to avoid your back tensing up from inactivity — but nothing too strenuous. Gentle exercise such as walking, stretching or yoga can be beneficial for a sensitive back. Strengthening your core will also help protect you from future injury.

Back Support

Whether you’re sitting or standing, always ensure you have lower back support. A variety of chairs and workstations on the market offer lumbar support, but an even simpler (and more affordable) option is to keep a rolled-up towel or small pillow behind your lower back. If you sleep on your back, be sure to keep one there overnight as well. 

Non-Surgical Treatments

If you’ve exhausted the above options, non-surgical treatments like massage therapy may bring added relief. Be sure you work with a licensed masseuse with experience in medical massage. Some people have also found that acupuncture eases their lower back pain.

When To See a Doctor

Most back pain will resolve itself after about a month of home treatment, but home remedies aren’t always enough. If you’re still in pain after trying some of the above remedies for several weeks, it’s time to contact a doctor — preferably one that specializes in back pain.


Contact a medical professional if:

  • You experience back pain after a fall or injury
  • Your back pain prevents you from completing basic daily tasks
  • Your back pain is accompanied by other symptoms like dizziness, fever or pain in other parts of the body
  • You have specific questions you want answered in a personalized consultation

Our specialists at Citrus Spine can help you choose the right treatment plan for you. Schedule a consultation to get the conversation started.

If you are experiencing back pain symptoms, you should never ignore or try to suffer through the pain. Always consult your doctor and have open conversations. If you are not satisfied with your doctor or require specialized care, it is recommended to get a second opinion from a back pain specialist.

Dr. Constantine Toumbis

Dr. Toumbis is a board certified, fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in cervical, thoracic and lumbar surgery. He received his undergraduate degree in Biology from New York University in 1987, then continued on to receive his Masters in Natural Sciences as well as a PhD in Experimental Pathology from State University of New York at Buffalo. He completed his medical degree at Wayne State University School of Medicine with a distinction in Biomedical Research. After moving to Florida to complete his internship and residency in orthopedics at the University of Florida Shands Hospital, he went on to pursue a fellowship at Cleveland Clinic's Florida Spine Institute. He moved to Citrus County and has been in private practice since 2005.

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