Back pain is very common and usually improves within a few weeks or months.
Pain in the lower back (lumbago) is particularly common, although it can be felt anywhere along the spine, from the neck down to the hips.
In most cases the pain is not 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 back pain
The following tips may help reduce your back pain and speed up your recovery:
- stay as active as possible and try to continue your daily activities – this is 1 of the most important things you can do, as resting for long periods is likely to make the pain worse
- try exercises and stretches for back pain; other activities such as walking, swimming, yoga and pilates may also be helpful
- take anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen – remember to check the medicine is safe for you to take and ask a pharmacist if you’re not sure
- use hot or cold compression packs for short-term relief – you can buy these from a pharmacy, or a hot water bottle or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth or towel will work just as well
Preventing back pain
It’s difficult to prevent back pain, but the following tips may help reduce your risk:
- do regular back exercises and stretches – a GP or physiotherapist may be able to advise you about exercises to try
- stay active – doing regular exercise can help keep your back strong; adults are advised to do at least 150 minutes of exercise a week
- avoid sitting for long periods
- take care when lifting – read some safe lifting tips
- check your posture when sitting, using computers or tablets and watching television – find out how to sit correctly and get tips for laptop users
- ensure the mattress on your bed supports you properly
- lose weight through a combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise if you’re overweight – being overweight can increase your risk of developing back pain
Find out more at nhs.uk/conditions/back-pain