Non serious back pain accounts for 90% of all reported cases of lumbar spine back pain and should resolve within eight weeks if managed appropriately.  Although painful and often debilitating you should consider managing your symptoms in the same way that you would manage a sprained ankle or wrist.  It is not advisable to continue with an activity despite the pain as this will further aggravate sensitive nerve tissue which will serve you no benefit.

Relative rest – Avoid aggravating movements as able for 48 hours.  Some people may take to bed rest where others find small regular walks helpful.

Medication – Consider Paracetamol for the initial 48 hours and then add an anti-inflammatory; for example Ibuprofen or Naproxen.  A consultation with you GP may lead to a short prescription for muscle-relaxant medication.

Ice – Ice therapy may be beneficial in the initial stages of back pain to reduce inflammation and nerve sensitivity.  Apply ice or frozen peas wrapped in a damp cloth to the painful part of your back for 20 minutes every two hours that you are awake.

Heat – Heat can be beneficial after 24 hours to stimulate blood flow relaxing muscle spasm and guarding.  Apply a hot wheat bag or hot water bottle wrapped in a cloth to the painful part of your back for 20 minutes every two hours that you are awake.

Gentle exercise – You can begin gentle mobility exercises from the moment you first experience back pain.  You should no longer be resting in bed at 48 hours as this only serves to weaken muscle tissue, stiffen joints and increase the sensitivity of nerve tissue.   You should expect the initial movement to be uncomfortable and sore, this is normal and will improve as you continue with exercise.  Try to exercise little and often for 15-20 minutes at a time; for example regular walks.

Activity modification – Avoid repetitive loading of your back; for example lifting and carrying. Avoid static postures; for example sitting, lying and standing.  Try to keep on the move and expect to be sore and uncomfortable when changing positions or initiating movement.  This is common, not serious and likely due to irritable stiff muscular tissue, spinal joints and sensitive nerve tissue.  Symptoms will improve with regular graded movement.

Expert help – Written information is great at providing reassurance however sitting down and discussing individual problems with an understanding professional allows for greater understanding of the complaint tailoring the advice and treatment.   Fay Pedler Physiotherapists are expertly placed to diagnose, advise and treat all musculoskeletal conditions including non-serious back pain.  Diagnosis will outline severity of symptoms, timescales for recovery, how to best manage the injury and advise on adaptations to make life more comfortable whilst healing takes place. 

  • Massage therapy may be offered which is beneficial in reducing muscular spasm further allowing muscular stretches and exercises to be performed more freely;
  • Acupuncture may be advised if symptoms are particularly irritable and again can be beneficial in reducing muscular spam, reducing pain and nerve sensitivity allowing engagement in exercise and stretches.
  • Stretches and exercises can be prescribed and progressed as symptoms improve and confidence returns.
  • Mobilisations – Spinal mobilisations may be administered to reduce stiffness in the spinal joints as will mobilisations to the pelvis and hips if highlighted as a problem in your assessment.  Again the purpose of this treatment is to enable stretches and exercises to be performed.
  • Manipulation – As with Chiropractors and Osteopaths Physiotherapists are trained in using Spinal manipulation techniques with the goal of reducing spinal joint stiffness to enable stretches and exercises to be performed.