Search IconSearch

My Back Went Out 3 Weeks Ago — What Should I Do?

The short answer from a spine specialist

Closeup of a practicioner's hands placing acupuncture needles into a patient's back

Q: My lower back went out 3 weeks ago. What should I do?

A: First of all, it’s important to know that in time, things will improve. Back pain like yours that is acute (lasting less than one month) or subacute (lasting one to three months) usually gets better as time goes on. This is true no matter what treatment is used.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Try easing your way back to exercising when you feel the pain has lessened a bit. Exercise remains the main strategy for returning to full function during an acute bout of low back pain.

If acute or subacute low back pain doesn’t resolve on its own, we agree with American College of Physicians guidelines that recommend:

  • Superficial heat (like a heating pad).
  • Massage.
  • Acupuncture.

These options can facilitate your rapid return to exercise and function.

The key is to avoid prolonged rest, which accelerates the risk of disability and deconditioning.

Occasionally, short-term use (five to 10 days) of non-steroidal inflammatory medications (such as naproxen, ibuprofen or celecoxib) or muscle relaxants (such as baclofen, metaxalone, or tizanidine) can help improve pain enough to return you to your regular exercise/fitness program.

As always, we recommend consulting with your doctor if your lower back pain is causing you additional concern and there are no signs of improvement.

Spine specialist Phillip Mendis, DO.

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Person shoveling snow
March 14, 2024/Wellness
Shoveling Snow? Tips To Prevent Back Injury or Pain

Stretch before heading outside, keep proper form and avoid jerking or twisting to throw snow

Patient at doctor office with physician checking their back
March 11, 2024/Chronic Pain
Is It Time To See a Doctor for My Aching Back?

It’s always a good idea to let a healthcare provider know about any back pain you’re experiencing, especially if it results from trauma or persists longer than three months

physical therapist working with patient on their back
March 4, 2024/Chronic Pain
12 Ways To Treat Your Back Pain Without Surgery

From physical and biofeedback therapy to nerve ablations and blocks, there are many nonsurgical options for managing back pain

person holding lower back at computer
September 19, 2023/Chronic Pain
Back Pain, Your Spine and Father Time: 13 Ways To Treat Age-Related Back Pain

Rest, physical therapy, acupuncture and nerve blocks are just a few ways to find relief

person doing yoga in living room
August 8, 2023/Chronic Pain
Find Relief From Back Pain With These Home Remedies

Get moving, use cold packs, and try yoga and stretches to ease back pain

Person recieving an epidural injection in thier spine.
June 22, 2023/Chronic Pain
Why Steroid Injections Don’t Always Help Your Back Pain, and What To Do About It

Back pain often has multiple causes, only some of which an epidural steroid injection can relieve

person doing child's pose in yoga class
May 15, 2023/Exercise & Fitness
Lower Back Pain? 7 Exercises and Stretches To Get Back at It

When your lower back locks up, walking and stretching are key

Person with lower back pain.
December 6, 2022/Brain & Nervous System
Burning Pain in Your Back? What It Might Be and How To Get Relief

Back spasms, shingles and disk conditions can all feel like a burning sensation

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims