Back pain is very common and normally improves within 6-12 weeks
Pain in the lower back is particularly common and most of the time does not mean you have damaged your back. Pain can be felt anywhere along the spine, from the neck down to the hips and in some cases into the leg (sciatica). There is often no obvious specific cause or trigger to the back pain. Some people will describe doing something to cause their symptoms but for most people the symptoms will start for no particular reason.
You are the best person to help your back get better.
If it is a new or recent problem you often don’t need to seek any medical advice. X-rays/scans or treatment are not usually needed and most people just need to keep moving and the pain will improve in time. The pain is usually related to irritation of soft tissues in your lower back. There are many soft tissues in your lower back so establishing which one is causing the problem is usually not possible or beneficial to recovery.
Most back pain starts to fade in 2 weeks and settles within 6 weeks
Keep positive, these are the Novus 6 rules of back pain that you can do to help your symptoms improve.
- If you keep moving, even slowly at first, you’ll recover faster.
- It’s important to avoid bed rest in the day.
- Find the most comfortable position for your back but don’t sit or drive for too long.
- Use anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen with or without paracetamol as they can help you to remain active, which helps you recover quicker. Remember to check they are safe for you. If you are not sure or struggling to manage your pain, then speak with a pharmacist.
- Remember to stay active – re-introducing heavy or repetitive lifting slowly at first.
- Get some exercise – you could try light exercise like walking or swimming, or try some of the simple exercises below.
When to get immediate medical advice
You should contact a GP or NHS 111 immediately if you have back pain and:
- numbness or tingling around your genitals or buttocks/inner thighs
- loss of bladder or bowel control or difficulty urinating, leaking of urine or bowel movements.
- Changes in sexual function, including loss of sensation during intercourse, inability to achieve an erection or ejaculate
- sudden, significant weakness in your arms or legs
- lack of coordination or heaviness to your arms and legs that is affecting your walking
- severe arm pain with accompanying tingling or numbness
- chest pain
- a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
- a swelling or a deformity in your back
- it does not improve with or at rest or is worse at night
- it started after a serious accident, such as after a car accident
These problems could be a sign of something more serious and need to be checked urgently.
If your back pain persists, or you are not sure what to do, you can self-refer to see a local physiotherapist who can help you with your problem.
If you are an NHS patient registered to a qualifying GP surgery, you can now refer yourself directly for MSK physiotherapy without needing an appointment at your GP practice.
You must be aged 16 or over and registered with a Wakefield GP.
Call 01924 224497 or complete the online form by clicking the link below.