What is the best treatment for low back pain?
In the majority of cases back pain will last from a few days to a couple of weeks. Usually your back pain with resolve with gentle mobility and taking things easy for a few days, followed by a gradual return to your normal activities.
When should I need to see a medical professional?
The time to go to a medical professional such as a physiotherapist is if you have:
Trauma or injury
Pain into your legs
Reduced sensation in your legs
Reduced strength in your legs
Any bladder and bowel function changes
Pain lasting longer than 2 weeks
Short term pain relief:
The aims of these treatments are to help you get moving so you can return to your normal activity:
Heat with a hot water bottle or bath or cool with ice packs or peas.
Gentle mobility such as taking your knees to your chest or tilting your pelvis.
Manual therapy including soft and deep tissue massage and joint mobilisations.
Acupuncture or dry needling, click here to learn more.
Medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen are more effective than opioids for most back pain
Long term pain relief:
In a few cases it may be a longer journey to recovery. A physiotherapist can help you make a plan to find a way through it. When pain continues for a long period of time your nervous system can become more sensitive and make normal activities feel painful, even though they are not harmful. Hands on treatment can become less helpful and may even you’re your pain worse. The best treatment in these cases is exercise. Having the guidance and reassurance from a physiotherapist to know that you are doing the right things and the support to keep going can be invaluable.
For long term or chronic back pain it is important that you have:
A physical activity that you enjoy – any activity that is can be done gently and that you can progress at your pace will be helpful. If you enjoy it, you will be more motivated to keep at it over the journey to recovery, which might be slow.
A self-managed programme, supported by your physiotherapist – for you to feel in control of your progress so that you can build confidence
Specific goals that you care about working towards – to help your motivation it must be a goal that you want to achieve. Yoga and Pilates are good exercises because they have an emphasis on relaxation, flexibility and strength. But if you enjoy doing something else you might find that relaxes you more.