Man with low back pain

So you’ve got low back pain. What do you do?

Low back pan is one of the most common complaints that we see at the clinic. It is the 2nd most common cause of visits to the GP and the most common cause of time off work. So if it so common why are there so many misconceptions and so much misinformation about what to do if you’re one of the unlucky ones? In this article we’ll look at 7 ways to help speed your recovery and get you back to being pain free as soon as possible.

1.First and foremost, don’t panic.

As we said before, low back pain is incredibly common and experiencing pain at some point in time is a normal part of life. Our spines are incredibly strong and durable and in most cases people are back to being pain free in a surprisingly short time.

2. Keep Moving. 

Years ago the old advice was always bed rest until the symptoms reduced. We now know this is just about the worst thing that you can do. When you finally begin moving again the fear of pain can restrict spinal movements even subconsciously so that your back is left feeling stiff and sore almost constantly. Keeping active reduces the brains sensitivity to pain signals coming from the lower back therefore reducing the pain experienced and aiding recovery.

3. Keep doing what you love! 

Within reason obviously. If you love carrying a grand piano up 4 flights of stairs then we might suggest that you give this a rest for a week or two but moderate activity such as a walk, run or a pilates class won't harm your back and it will probably even actually help you feel better!

4. Should I get an MRI scan or X-ray? 

This is one of the most common questions we get asked in the clinic. In the vast majority of cases, for short term lower back pain a scan or imaging is not only unnecessary but has actually been shown to lead to longer recovery times. Studies show that wear and tear is incredibly common. One study of 20 year olds in 2014 showed 37% had intervertebral disc degeneration but none had any pain. X-rays and MRI scans often just lead to unnecessary worry. This worry and anxiety can lead to increased sensitivity to pain therefore worsening the symptoms needlessly.

5. Painkillers? 

Studies have shown that most people find that over the counter painkillers have very little effect on lower back pain.

6. Lower back exercises and stretches 

if you have been prescribed stretches and exercises for your lower back pain by a healthcare professional now is the time to do them! A combination of moderate activity, gentle stretches, exercises and rest should help you feel much better.

7. Talk to a qualified healthcare professional. 

If the symptoms persist for more than a week or two or if you have any concerns then it might be time to talk to a qualified health professional. The current UK National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines recommend manual therapy in conjunction with rehabilitation exercises. So that’s hands-on therapy like Osteopathy and Sports Therapy. At Hicks Health we believe that visiting an osteopath should be an educational experience where patients leave feeling informed and empowered with the ability to self manage their lower back pain more effectively.

Thanks for taking the time to read our blog and we hope that you found the information useful. If you do have any concerns about any pain that you are experiencing, whether it's back pain or elsewhere and your unsure of what to do you can always call the clinic for some free, no commitment advice on 0208 088 0442 or email

Principal Osteopath
Hicks health