Surgery is rarely needed.
There are some uncommon back conditions where there is pressure on the nerves that supply the legs and the patient gets leg symptoms, such as pain, pins and needles or numbness. For these conditions, surgery can help the leg symptoms but it is important to understand that it is not always required.
You also need to know that on average, the results for back surgery are no better in the medium and long term than non-surgical interventions, such as exercise.
So a non-surgical option, which includes exercise and activity, should always come first.
Painkillers may be necessary for a short period if back pain is severe although this will not speed up your recovery.
They should only be used in conjunction with other measures, such as exercise, and even then just as a short-term option as they can bring side effects.
Exercise, which is safer and cheaper, is considered the preferred option. Movement is the best medicine for back pain!
Yes, absolutely! Exercise and activity reduces and prevents back pain. Exercise is shown to be very helpful for tackling back pain and is also the most effective strategy to prevent future episodes.
Start slowly and build up both the amount and intensity of what you do and don’t worry if it’s sore to begin with – you won’t be damaging your back.
No one type of exercise is proven to be more effective than others so just pick an exercise you enjoy, that you can afford to maintain in the long-term and that fits in with your daily schedule.
No – You should not fear bending and lifting. These movements are often portrayed as causes of back pain and while an injury can occur if something is picked up in an awkward or unaccustomed way, it’s most likely to just be a sprain or strain.
The important thing is to practice and get your body used to carrying different loads and weights in a way you find comfortable and efficient. People who completely avoid bending and lifting due to back pain are more likely to develop longer term problems with their back.
The more you gradually expose your back to these normal movements and activities that the spine is designed to carry out, the more comfortable and easier they become.
You rarely need a scan and it can do more harm than good. This is because seeing perfectly normal changes to their spine related to age, which are not predictive of back pain, can cause people to avoid the activities they should be doing to get better, such as exercise and movement in general.
Studies have shown that a scan does not show the exact reason for back pain in 95% of cases and will not guide further management. Watch Video
However, there are extremely rare cases of back pain where immediate medical advice and need for scanning may be required. Know More
No – Scientific studies now indicate prolonged rest and avoidance of activity for people with low back pain actually leads to higher levels of pain, greater disability, poorer recovery and longer absence from work.
In the first few days of a new episode of low back pain, avoiding aggravating activities may help to relieve pain. However, staying as active as possible and returning to all usual activities gradually is actually important in aiding recovery – this includes staying in work where possible.
While it is normal to move differently and more slowly in the first few days of having back pain, this altered movement can be unhealthy if continued in the long-term.