Most episodes of back pain are not serious and may be treated with:
Limited bed rest (no more than two days)
Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) for pain or oral anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and others) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), for pain and inflammation
Muscle relaxants or prescription pain relievers, if necessary, for a short period
Hot or cold compresses
People with back pain are encouraged to return to their normal activities gradually, and to temporarily avoid heavy lifting, prolonged sitting, or sudden bending or twisting.
If you are recovering from back pain, your doctor may ask you to call or return to his or her office for a follow-up visit in about two weeks to confirm that your symptoms are gone and that you can safely resume all of your normal activities.
If your back pain is related to more serious disorders of the vertebrae or spinal nerves or if it hasn't improved over a few weeks, you may be referred to a specialist, such as a pain specialist, an orthopedic surgeon (a doctor who specializes in diseases of the bones), a neurologist (a doctor who specializes in diseases of the nerves and brain) or a rheumatologist (an arthritis specialist).