Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

General Spine News

Wrap Up Low Back Pain

Are you treating yourself for a sudden case of low back pain? Do you know what's best: heat, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen (Tylenol)?
Muscular low back pain can be treated with heat for the best result. This is true if there is no numbness and no buttock or leg pain.

A special heat wrap can be placed around the low back area. As it heats up, this wrap can be pressed in place to match each person's shape and size. It keeps the temperature at 104 degrees for eight hours. Muscular pain and stiffness are often reduced with two days use of the heat wrap. Movement increases and overall function improves. These good results continue even after the wrap is removed.

Tylenol and ibuprofen are most often used for self-treatment of low back pain. However, the heat wrap reportedly gives greater improvement in symptoms and function when compared with maximum recommended doses of these medications. Normal activity is advised during the two days of heat treatment. Neither bed rest nor active exercise is recommended during the first 48 hours of painful low back symptoms.


Scott F. Nadler, DO, et al. Continuous Low-Level Heat Wrap Therapy Provides More Efficacy Than Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen for Acute Low Back Pain. In Spine. May 15, 2002. Vol. 27. No. 10. Pp. 1012-1017.

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*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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