Patients often ask what they can do for temporary relief at home. For example, a new strain happens on a weekend and immediate relief is being sought out. What do you do?

Let me give a couple of suggestions:

1. The first suggestion for a strained joint will be to use an ice pack. An ice pack can be a gel filled flexible pack or even a Zip-lock bag with ice cubes. In either case make sure to use a t-shirt thickness cloth between the ice pack and the skin. I recommend having the pack in place 20-30 minutes on followed by 30 minutes off. Repeat this 2-3 times and then leave the ice off for 2-3 hours or until skin gets back to normal temperature, and then repeat. At this frequency, it can't be overdone. Seek care as soon as possible for further advice.

2. Rest is the next step with finding a position that provides as much relief as possible. Position yourself with pillows or cushions supporting the problem areas. Pillows under the knees when on your back hepls the low back and a pillow between the knees when on your side is another option to try.

3. Supports can help a strained low back. Elastic and velcro low back supports help stabilize the lumbar spine and provides relief to the inflammed muscles and ligaments.

A note on ice vs. heat:

Generally speaking, ice is beneficial to relieve inflammation and provide some degree of pain relief. Heat will be used to give relief to sore and tired muscles, however, heat can further inflame an already irritated nerve root or joint. The challenge is to determine whether the pain present is from and overused muscle or if the pain is from an irritated joint or nerve root. Personal experience can help you decide but seeking professional care is always advised.