Back pain is very common and normally improves within a few weeks or months. It can be felt anywhere along the spine – from the neck down to the pelvis. In most cases the pain isn’t caused by anything serious and will usually get better over time.

There are things you can do to help relieve it. But sometimes the pain can last a long time or keep coming back.

How to relieve your back pain

• try to stay active and continue with your daily routine
• try gentle exercises and stretches for back pain including: walking, swimming, yoga and pilates may be helpful
• use hot and cold compression packs for some relief
• try to stay positive and optimistic, understand that your pain should get better with time, people who manage to stay positive usually recover quicker

Help and advice

Back pain usually improves on its own after a few weeks or months and you may not need to see a health professional or doctor.

But it is a good idea to seek help if:

• the pain doesn’t start to improve and is getting worse
• if the pain stops you from being able to carry on with your daily activities
• if the pain is severe
• if you are worried about the pain or are struggling to cope

Treatments from a specialist, these may include:

• manual therapy – treatments such as manipulating the spine and massage, usually carried out by physiotherapists, chiropractors or osteopaths
• group exercise classes – where you’re taught exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your posture
• psychological support, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – this can be a useful part of treatment if you’re struggling to cope with the pain

Reduce your risk of developing back pain:

• do regular exercise, helping to keep your back strong; adults are advised to do 150 minutes a week
• avoid sitting for too long, especially when driving or at work
• take care with your posture when lifting
• ensure your mattress and pillow are supporting you properly
• lose weight if you are overweight, this should be done by eating a healthy diet and partaking in regular exercise

When to get immediate medical advice:

You should contact your GP or NHS 111 immediately if you have back pain and:

• numbness or tingling around your genitals or buttocks
• difficulty weeing
• loss of bladder or bowel control
• chest pain
• a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
• unexplained weight loss
• a swelling or a deformity in your back
• it doesn’t improve after resting or is worse at night
• it started after a serious accident, such as after a car accident

When to seek help for back pain by Abbie Thomas #backpainweek