Pain in the lower back (lumbago) is particularly common, although it can be felt anywhere along the spine – from the neck down to the hips
In most cases the pain isn’t caused by anything serious and will usually get better over time.
There are things you can do to help relieve it. But sometimes the pain can last a long time or keep coming back.
- stay as active as possible and try to continue your daily activities – this is one of the most important things you can do, as resting for long periods is likely to make the pain worse
- try exercise and stretches of back pain ; other activities such as walking , swimming , yoga and Pilates may also be helpful
take anti-inflammatory painkiller , such as ibuprofen – remember to check the medicine is safe for you to take first and ask a pharmacist if you’re not sure
- use hot or cold compression packs for short-term relief – you can buy these from your local pharmacy, or a hot water bottle and a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth will work just as well
Although it can be difficult, it helps if you stay optimistic and recognise that your pain should get better, as people who manage to stay positive despite their pain tend to recover quicker.
Getting help and advice that will relieve back pain
Back pain usually gets better on its own within a few weeks or months and you may not need to see a doctor or other healthcare professional.
But it’s a good idea to get help if:
- the back pain doesn’t start to improve within a few weeks
- the back pain stops you doing your day-to-day activities
- the back pain is very severe or gets worse over time
- you’re worried about the pain or are struggling to cope
You can see your GP, who will ask about your symptoms, examine your back, and discuss possible treatments. They may refer you to a specialist doctor or a physiotherapist for further help.
Alternatively, you may want to consider approaching a physiotherapist directly. Some NHS physiotherapists accept appointments without a doctor’s referral, or you could choose to pay for private treatment.
Back Pain Treatments from a specialist
Your GP, specialist or physiotherapist may recommend extra treatments if they don’t think your pain will improve with self-help measures alone.
These may include:
- group exercise classes – where you’re taught exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your posture
- manual therapy – treatments such as manipulating the spine and massage, usually carried out by physiotherapists, cheropractise or osteopath
psychological support, such as congnitve psychologist– this can be a useful part of treatment if you’re struggling to cope with the pain
Some people choose to see a therapist for manual therapy without seeing their GP first. If you want to do this, you’ll usually need to pay for private treatment.
Surgery is generally only considered in the small number of cases where back pain is caused by a specific medical condition.