What Are Some Effective Treatments for Lower Back Pain? Dr. Jennifer Stevens

back pain

Lower back pain is almost so common that it’s part of human existence. Most people will have lower back pain at some point in their adult lives. 

So what we need to do when you get lower back pain is not to take to bed and take Valium. We want you to keep moving. Just do gentle exercises, walking as much as you can, gradually increasing the amount of activity that you do every day as you recover. Simple pain medications, Panadol, anti-inflammatories if you can take them. 

So those are the sorts of things that result in a recovery for about 70% of people within two weeks. For the majority of people, your back pain’s just going to get better. It might come back again at some point when you can go through the same process. But it’s really normal to have that. 

If your back pain’s really severe or it’s not going away, you can go to your GP. If there’s no major problems identified, it’s likely that your GP will not do an X-ray or a scan and that’s well supported by the guidelines. So it’s important not to pressure your GP into doing investigations that are really not necessary for normal back pain. For some people back pain persists, even then, the same sorts of treatments have been shown to be the most effective over the long term, so avoiding big painkillers. Maybe you need some for maybe a week or two but staying on them for long-term can be very counterproductive. 

Engaging in physical activity. Avoiding the boom and bust of feeling great one day, doing a whole lot of activity and then crashing the next. Graded exercise with a plan and sticking to that plan, those are the sorts of things that can help you recover and keep mobile even with back pain.

Dr Jennifer Stevens is a Pain Specialist at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney and Pain Australia

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