Low back pain

Pain in the lower back is very common. Sometimes the pain can last a long time or keep coming back, but there are things you can do to help relieve it.

Read our low back pain leaflet for a full sumary of the information on this page, which also comes in an easy read version.

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If you are experiencing low back pain follow this guidance:

  • Stay as active as possible – resting for long periods can make the pain worse. 
  • Use hot or cold compression packs from your pharmacy for short-term relief. Alternatively, a hot water bottle or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth will work just as well.
  • Ask your GP about physiotherapy and psychological therapies. These can sometimes help people to manage low back pain.

Take anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen. If you are not sure that the medicine is safe for you to take, ask a pharmacist.

Talk to your GP or pharmacist about other medications which may help and ask your pharmacist or GP to consider a medication review to maximise effectiveness and avoid unnecessary side effects.

Back pain guide

Nearly all of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives. Explore this guide for more on different types of back pain and how to prevent it, plus get advice on treatment.

Exercises for lower back pain

Exercise is one of the best ways to manage most back pain and to prevent further attacks. Our patient information leaflet has exercises to try at home.

 

Treatments not recommended

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advises that some spinal injections and acupuncture do not justify the risks and costs involved and should not be offered to manage low back pain. Your GP will therefore not routinely be sending patients for:

  • Some spinal injections
  • Acupuncture

You can read further information in our policies on low back pain and sciatica, and acupuncture.   

When to get immediate medical advice

  • If you are very unwell.
  • If you think you may have: infection, cancer or a broken bone in your back.
  • If you have: numbness or tingling around your genitals or buttocks, difficulty peeing, loss of bladder or bowel control.

 For further information visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/back-pain/