Back Pain

Back pain is a very common ailment. An estimated 60% of adults will suffer from it at some point in their lifetime. Over 2.8 million people suffer from chronic back pain in the UK. If you’re one of those suffering, you aren’t alone.

Still, the pain caused by a bad back can be debilitating and can affect nearly every aspect of your life, from work to sleep, and may require specialist treatment.

What Are the Causes of Back Pain?


Looking After Yourself


Often, back pain will get better by itself, and the best thing you can do is to ease it and give yourself time to recover. Here are some things you can do:

  • Take anti-inflammatory painkillers: Anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen will work best for back pain. Paracetamol is not recommended but can be used with other, more effective painkillers to provide additional relief.

  • Stay active: It’s crucial to keep moving and continue with your daily activities.

  • Try some light exercises: Do some exercises and stretches to stop your back from ceasing. However, stop if these cause the pain to get worse.

  • Use heat packs: These can help relieve stiffness and help with muscle spasms.

  • Use ice packs: These may help numb the pain and reduce swelling.

  • Do not stay in bed for long periods of time.

You can find some exercises for back pain in these NHS videos on back stretches and pilates for back pain. Activities such as walking and swimming can also help ease back pain. 

When Should I Seek Professional Help for Back Pain?


While most back pain goes away with self-treatment, you may need to seek professional help. It is vital to make a GP appointment if:

  • The pain doesn’t improve after a few weeks of treatment.

  • The pain is getting worse over time.

  • You are unable to do day-to-day activities.

  • You are struggling to cope with the pain.

In certain situations, it is necessary to make an urgent GP appointment or call NHS 111. Please seek more urgent help if:

  • The pain doesn’t improve after a few weeks of treatment.

  • There's a lump or swelling in your back.

  • Your back has changed shape.

  • The pain does not improve after resting or is worse at night.

  • The pain is worse when you sneeze, cough or have bowel movements.

  • The pain comes from the top of your back (between your shoulders) rather than your lower back.

What Treatments Are Available for Back Pain?


There are several possible treatments that your GP may suggest for you if your back pain is more severe or long-lasting than is typical. These treatments include:

  • Prescribed medicines: A doctor may prescribe more potent painkillers to help you deal with the pain or give you medicine to help you relax.

  • Physiotherapy: Specialists can help you exercise safely to build strength in your back or help by offering manual therapy (massaging and manipulating your back to relieve pain and stiffness and aid movement.)

  • Surgical Procedures: Some procedures may be used to stop nerve endings in your back from sending pain signals.

If you are struggling with back pain, you needn’t suffer without help. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your GP. If you aren’t registered with a GP, you can register with us anytime for online and in-person help.

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