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Back

Back Pain

Back pain is a common health complaint that everyone experiences at some point in their life. The pain is most commonly experienced in the lower back but can be experienced anywhere on the back.

It usually improves without treatment within a few weeks or months and is rarely anything to worry about.

  • We can divide back pain into two main types:

    • Non-specific: This is the types of back pain that doesn’t have an obvious cause. The pain may come and go, especially when you move or change position. It can develop suddenly or gradually and is usually caused by poor lifting, poor posture or strain during exercise. This type often feels better within a few weeks.

    • Mechanical: Mechanical back pain is caused by a problem with the spine, joints, bones, muscles or soft tissues. This can include a slipped disc, sciatica, ankylosing spondylitis or spondylolisthesis. 

    Occasionally it can be caused by something more serious such as an infection, a broken bone in the spine, cauda equina syndrome or cancer. However, this is very rare.

  • Most back pain will resolve itself. Staying active by walking or swimming or doing stretching and strengthening exercises like Pilates and Yoga can also help. You can also try applying hot or cold treatments or taking warm baths to relax.

    There are also certain medications you can take to reduce inflammation and ease discomfort or pain. This includes taking ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

    Codeine is a stronger painkiller that can also help. If your back pain includes muscle spasms, you might be prescribed a muscle relaxant too.

Further resources

You can find out more about back pain on the NHS website by clicking here.