Savvy Britain


How to Cure Back Pain

Learning how to cure back pain can be a common question, which is asked, by millions of people across the country.

Back pain itself is a common issue, which can affect people’s lives on a daily basis. It can also affect their work patterns, relationship and general mood.

Typically, in ‘most cases’ back pack usually improves within a couple of weeks, however sometimes it can linger on for a couple of months.

Generally speaking any ‘pain’ felt in the lower back region (officially known as the lumbago) tends to be the most common area for back problems to occur.

However, pain can typically be felt anywhere along the spine and still be regarded as a back issue. This tends to start from the base of the neck all the way down to the hips.

Back pain can be caused by a range of different reasons, for example sitting on a chair all day at work, lifting heavy boxes, sporting activities and so on.

As there’s a wide range of reasons back pain can occur, you should think about your lifestyle and how it might be affecting your body.

How to Relieve Back Pain

As we’re all different shapes and sizes, this means when back pain does occur, the pain you feel might be different from somebody else you know.

If you’re in serious pain from your back, please read our section on when to get immediate medical help for backache, so you don’t cause any more damage to your body.

If you feel your condition is ‘mild’, here are some ‘general’ tips, which may reduce your back pain:
  • Take anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. You must remember to read all of the documentation that comes with the medicine. If you’re unsure, ask the pharmacist for more advice.
  • A hot or cold compression on your back can be good for a short period of time. Typically, you can purchase a compression pack from a local supermarket or pharmacy. Instead of purchasing a compression pack, some people like to use a hot water bottle or a bag of frozen vegetables. If you use a hot water bottle remember to not ‘burn’ your skin. Keep the temperature at an acceptable level; it can be a good idea to ‘wrap’ the water bottle in a cloth.
  • Light exercises could help to relieve back pain. This includes gentle walking, swimming, yoga and so on. Equally you could also try general exercises and stretches to ease backache.
  • Usually when people have a back problem they tend to ‘rest’ – this can sometimes make matters worse. You should always ‘attempt’ to conduct your daily activities like normal. If your backache is so bad you can’t do normally daily things, please seek professional medical assistance.
Please remember that all of these ‘tips’ are ‘general advice’, we cannot be held responsible for any additional injuries, which may occur. As everybody has different conditions and requirements, you should seek professional medical advice if your backache is affecting your daily life.
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Causes of Back Pain

 Typically, backache can occur from a number of different reasons, sometimes it’s not even possible to ‘pin-point’ the exact cause.

Generally back pain happens as a result of an injury, such as a strain or sprain. This can because of a car accident, lifting heavy goods, playing contact sports and so on.

Backache tends to not be caused by anything serious, however it sometimes can be related to medical conditions such as:
  • Sciatica – This is the ‘irritation’ of the nerve, which runs from the pelvis to your feet.
  • Slipped Disc – This is when a disc of cartilage in the spine ‘presses’ on a nearby nerve causing back pain.
  • Arthritis – Sometimes arthritis in the spine can mean the space around the spinal cord gets narrower. This is a condition called ‘spinal stenosis’, for some people it can cause backache.
  • Osteoporosis – This relates to your spine’s vertebrae, which can develop compression fractures if the bones become brittle.
  • Skeletal Irregularity – Backache can sometimes happen if your spine ‘curves’ abnormally. Generally the spine curves to the side, which tends to cause pain.
Remember to get a ‘proper’ diagnosis on your condition, it’s always recommended to speak to a healthcare professional, such as your GP for medical advice. This page is intended for use as a general guide only.

Back Pain Red Flags

While we all have niggles and pains here and there, you should consider how bad your problem is.

This section highlights some of the ‘back pain red flags’, which may indicate a problem, that will not be cured without assistance from your Doctor.

Firstly, you need to ask yourself how ‘bad’ your condition is. Are you having trouble with your daily lifestyle? Is the pain not improving? Is your backache getting worse?

‘Usually’ back pain does get better with time, this tends to be within a few weeks or months. Most people don’t need to see a doctor, however this isn’t always the case.

If you think you need professional Back Pain Treatment, you will answer ‘Yes’ to most of these questions:
  • Have you had the pain for over a month?
  • Is the pain worse, even after taking over-the-counter painkillers?
  • Is the pain stopping you from conducting your daily activities?
  • Is your backache getting ‘worse’ or more ‘severe’ over time?
  • Are you worried about the pain?
As stated, if you’ve answered ‘Yes’ to most of these questions, you should consider visiting a healthcare professional such as your Doctor.

When to Get Immediate HELP for Back Ache

Typically in Britain, you should contact your Doctor’s practice or call NHS 111 immediately, if you have the following symptoms associated with back pain:
  • Tingling or Numbness around your Buttocks or Genitals
  • A temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Chest Pain
  • Swelling in your Back
  • Loss of Bowl or Bladder Control
  • Difficulty passing wee
  • The back pain doesn’t improve after resting or it’s worse at night
  • If you’ve been involved in a serious accident
Remember this list is not ‘definitive’; other symptoms could also be present.

Equally these symptoms listed above, could also be the sign of something more serious, which needs urgent medical treatment.

General Ways on How to Prevent Backache

 As we’re all moving around with our lives at a fast pace it can be difficult to avoid some form of back pain. Typically, you should attempt to prevent backache by:
  • Ensuring you have a supportive mattress. This should support your entire body and offer support for your lumber. Typically, a mattress should be replaced once every 6 to 7 years.
  • Try to avoid sitting for long periods at time. This can be especially problematic if you work at a computer desk. Remember to take regular breaks and purchase a ergonomic chair to aid your body.
  • If your job involves lifting heavy items, remember to lift correctly and not ‘pull’ your back out of place.
  • Try to keep active on a regular basis. This means walking around your area regularly or joining a gym. Adults in the UK are advised by the NHS to do around 150 minutes of exercise a week.
  • If you’re over-weight, attempt to eat a healthy diet and regularly exercise. This can decrease the chances of your developing back pain in the future.

Hospital Back Pain Treatments

If you’ve visited your doctor, then he or she may have recommended seeing a healthcare professional. This can be at your local hospital or health centre.

Generally specialists may show you additional back relief treatments, if self-help measures have not cured your pain.

Backache treatments may include:
  • Psychological Help – This can mean visiting a specialist who is trained in cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT. In some cases this can be great for people who are struggling with backache on a daily basis.
  • Therapy – a healthcare professional may recommend seeing a physiotherapist, osteopath or a chiropractor. However this will depend on the nature of the back issue. Treatments such as these can help to ‘manipulate’ the spine and massage the muscles to relieve symptoms.
  • Exercise Classes – Group exercise classes can be ideal to strengthen muscles and improve your body posture. Typically most classes will be once a week and you will be taught a range of exercises. Sometimes there will be ‘one on one’ sessions, however this will depend on each individual and their condition.
If all of the above treatments still haven’t cured the back pain, then your healthcare professional may investigate medical conditions, which might be causing you problems.

If this is the case, then surgery could be involved to correct the issue, however back surgery is only conducted in a very small number of cases.

Surgery for Back Pain

Generally speaking, surgery for back pain is typically only done when a precise medical reason requires it. Usually this is for a slipped disc or sciatica.

In most cases you will not need to stay in hospital overnight, usually you will be ‘awake’ during the treatment. Generally a ‘local anaesthetic’ is used, however you shouldn’t ‘feel’ any pain from the surgery itself. The local anaesthetic will numb your back, so the surgeon can repair the issue, while you’re awake.

Typically the most ‘common’ surgery for back pain is called ‘radio frequency denervation’.

This is a process, which allows the surgeon to insert needles into your nerves that are affecting the joints in your back. Radio waves are then ‘sent’ through the needles to heat the nerves. This then stops the nerves sending pain signals to the brain.

Generally this surgical procedure is only done if:
  • The consultant / surgeon recommends it
  • The back pain is severe
  • The pain has been present for a long time
  • The pain ‘originates’ from the joints in the spine
It’s important to remember that all surgery is not without risk. Even ‘simple’ surgery for back pain such as this carries the risk of complications. While ‘rare’ this can include bruising to your back, infection, nerve damage and bleeding. Before any operation, you should talk to your consultant to ‘weigh up’ the risks, before agreeing to any procedure.

Back Pain Treatments NOT Recommended

Having backache can be terrible; it can affect your daily life and easily make anybody feel miserable.

Unfortunately, most people ‘grasp’ at any form of back pain treatment available, just to alleviate the pain.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, also known simply as NICE recommends you do not conduct the following treatments due to ‘lack of evidence’.
  • Acupuncture – This is a treatment in which ‘fine’ needles are inserted into different points of the body.
  • Traction – This form of treatment uses ropes, pulleys and weights to apply ‘force’ to tissues around the spine.
  • Therapeutic Ultrasound – This procedure involves sound waves, which are ‘directed’ at your back to speed up the healing of the tissue.
  • Use of Equipment – Such as corsets, foot orthotics, shoes and belts
  • Nerve Stimulation – Officially called Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, also known as TENS. This is a machine that delivers small electrical pulses to your back through electrodes attached to the skin.
  • Interferential Therapy – Also known by it’s shorter name IFT, this is a device which ‘passes’ electrical current through the back to try to speed up the healing process.
  • PENS – Also known as Percutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, this electric pulse is passed along needles that are inserted near to the nerves in the back.
While this list is not ‘definitive’ – you should always seek professional medical advice for any back-related issues.

You should never attempt treatment on your own or by somebody who is not professionally qualified through a certified medical association. See a Doctor or a healthcare professional for ‘proper’ medical assistance before you conduct any treatments for backache.

Keep in mind that most back pain tends to go away within a few weeks or months. Try to stay relaxed as this can ‘ease’ the pain and tension in your back muscles.

Remember if your symptoms do get worse always seek professional medical advice for back pain or backache.
Original Publication: 7 July 2017
Last Updated: 7 July 2017

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