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Q. What can I do if my pain comes back or gets worse?
A. Once you have had an episode of back pain, the chance of having pain again is very high - about 90%. The goal of your physical therapy program is to help you learn and use ways to prevent future pain and injury as well as to relieve any future pain you may have. If your back pain strikes again, avoid activities, positions, or movements that make the pain worse. Give your sore back or neck a chance to rest. You may get some relief with short periods of rest in a comfortable position. For the first two or three days, you may get relief by applying a cold pack. Once the early pain symptoms are controlled (two to three days), you may get good pain relief by using a hot pack or heating pad. If using a heating pad, remember to turn it off before going to sleep. Check your skin regularly to make sure you are not getting too much heat.
Some exercises are designed to help take pain away. After you have completed your physical therapy treatments, your physical therapist (PT) can go over the exercises that will give you the best pain relief in case you get sore again. Remember to do your exercises exactly how your PT showed you. Overdoing them could make your pain worse. Remember to use healthy posture, body movement, and safe lifting techniques with all your activities. If you are trying to take care of your back or neck but are still not getting relief, you may need to see your doctor or PT again for additional help.