Back Pain Management – Must Knows

Don’t panic

  • Almost everybody will experience lower back pain at some point in time. Lower back pain can have a recurrent nature – this is relatively ‘normal’. Recovery times can be relatively quick and expecting the worst can be more harmful than the back pain itself.

Identify the triggers

  • Identifying and understanding the triggers of your pain is essential. Make note of what activities (or lack of) lead to the episodes you experience. This can help you to prevent acute flare ups, but also, best manage any discomfort at the exact time.

Don’t over complicate

  • Don’t rush for treatment and harmful investigations. Scans don’t always (often do not) identify the cause of episode – avoid the focus on a treatment plan directed towards ‘signs’ on scans that may have existed prior to your pain.
  • Reports will often find signs (of degeneration for eg) that are normal parts of the aging process and can be poorly linked to your symptoms.
  • Don’t be put off by medical jargon and opinions. Research has shown that structures in the back (joints and discs for eg) do not ‘go out of place’ or ‘slip’. The term ‘slipped disc’ is not only inaccurate but can be harmful as it suggests unrealistic vulnerability within your spine.

Don’t be fooled by ‘new cures’

  • The media can be an avenue for many promised ‘quick fixes’ for low back pain – a new pill, device, gadget, cream or exercise. Management of lower back pain requires effort from the individual – consistent effort!

Remain active

  • In the long-term, avoiding prolonged rest will result in better outcomes. It is important in acute low back pain to find the balance between letting the pain settle and continuing to move. Ideally avoid aggravating movements and reducing load for a few days but avoid excessive rest leading to stiffness and weakness.

Return to usual activities

  • The back, like all body parts is designed for movement and will adapt to different activities with load and practice. Be sensible, and build up tolerance to activities like bending and lifting, working and sports.

Exercise helps

  • Exercise is a great tool to reduce pain and prevent future episodes. The best exercise to choose is the one you will do/enjoy and stick with over time. Examples include walking, running, cycling, swimming, yoga and pilates. Evidence has shown that exercise can almost half the risk of recurrence of lower back pain.


Information sourced from Dr. Mary O’Keeffe Via Physio Network: