Lower Back

Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain in adults is extremely common (>60% of the population report back pain at some time in their lives).

It is most likely caused by a benign combination of muscles, ligaments and intervertebral discs.  Serious specific causes are rare. 

Sciatica is a relatively common, more troublesome, manifestation of a slipped intervertebral disc.  It results in pain or funny sensations down the length of one leg.  Reassuringly over 90% of cases of sciatica will resolve within 6 months of onset with simple measures (as suggested in this guide) without the need for any imaging or intervention. 

By far the biggest reversible factor in lower back pain is individual weight.  Losing weight is almost universally beneficial for symptoms – please see our Healthy Living section under 'Your Health' for further tips on this. 

A common myth in lower back pain is that any activity is making the underlying issue worse.  The reality is quite the opposite.  Light weight bearing exercise is always recommended and early mobilisation is highly likely to bring about faster resolution of symptoms. 

Lower back

Medicines and Lower Back Pain

Back pain is unfortunately a common (if not the most common) circumstance for the misuse of prescription drugs.  As a practice we are aware of numerous circumstances/patients who have become dependent on the prescribing of powerful analgesics for musculoskeletal issues which would be better managed by other strategies (namely the aforementioned).    

We remind you that powerful prescription drugs such as codeine, morphine, tramadol, benzodiazepines, gabapentinoids, have extensive side effect profiles and run risks of dependence even in relatively short-term use.  It is always our recommendation that safer, over-the-counter preparations such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or topical non-steroidals are considered and tried in the first instance of a musculoskeletal issue. 

In addition to light weight bearing exercise, linked below are some simple physiotherapy exercises for you to try at home: