Back Pain Information

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Aug 6, 2018


Back Pain Information


Back pain is an extremely common symptom that we see in general medical practice.

Back pain can be in any area of the spine from the neck (known as the cervical spine) down to the pelvis and hips.

Fortunately in the majority of patients the back pain is not caused by any serious problem.

Back pain will respond to things you can to relieve it. Consider various suggestions for treatment. Occasionally the back can last longer and sometimes occur at various episodes in time.


Causes of Chronic Back Pain

In the vast majority of patients in general practice the pain is non specific and resolves , called musculoskeletal MSK.

Rarely back pain can be due to a prolapsed disc (also known as a slipped disc) and can be seen on an MRI scan, requiring the opinion and advice of a spinal surgeon.

Back Pain Prevention

These back pain prevention tips should help.

The following tips may help reduce your backache and speed up your recovery:

  • use it or lose it- be active in the activities of daily living, including exercise-there are many activities recommended such as daily walking, swimming.
  • use OTC over the counter medication as advised by your pharmacist. These work against inflammation as anti- inflammatory drugs like  nurofen also known as ibuprofen.
  • compression packs can be hot or cold for short-term relief. Buy at the chemist or use imagination with frozen backs wrapped up and applied.
  • be confident of continued success.

When to See a Doctor for Back Pain

Back pain generally improves on its own and gets better within a short time-may vary but generally with 2-3 weeks in which case you may be advised by your local pharmacist.  However consider seeing your GP doctor if the pain:
  • the pain doesn’t start to improve within a few weeks
  • does not settle (or gets worse) with advice and treatment from your local pharmacist generally within 2-3 weeks,
  • the pain affects your daily activities.

You can see your GP, who will ask about your symptoms, examine your back, and discuss possible treatments. They may refer you to a specialist doctor or a physiotherapist for further help.

Alternatively, you may want to consider approaching a physiotherapist directly. Some NHS physiotherapists accept appointments without a doctor’s referral, or you could choose to pay for private treatment.

Read more about how to find a physiotherapist.

Treatments from your GP

Your GP will see and:

  • take a history,
  • clinical examination and
  • consider requesting any tests or investigation.
  • may refer for exercise, physiotherapy or osteopathy.

Physiotherapy and osteopathy for back pain

Then GP may have the opinion that more could be done to help the patient clinically get better.

The patient may be recommended by the GP to refer to physiotherapy or osteopathy and needs to attend a course of physiotherapy or osteopathy.

Treatment that could be tried to benefit, make life more comfortable and to enhance the probability of recovery.

It is recommended that consideration be given to offering a single course to expedite resolution of symptoms; usually minimum of six sessions.

Surgery is generally only considered in the small number of cases where back pain is caused by a specific medical condition.

Treatments from a specialist

Your GP may advise referral to a specialist although surgical operation is rare, occurring  in a few patients with a surgical condition.

Surgery is generally only considered in the small number of cases where back pain is caused by a specific medical condition.

Back Pain Red Flags

If you have back pain and any of the following symptoms then please contact your doctor, surgery or out of hours service, may need urgent appointment for examination:

  • urinary retention or urinary incontinence-difficulty passing urine.
  • loss of control of the bladder urine or bowels, with difficulty passing urine or controlling bowel function.
  • loss of sensation around anus or genitals.

Do you suffer from back pain?

If you have been suffering back pain and need help in diagnosing the problem, call Doctor Martin on 020 8209 2401 to make an appointment.

Doctor Harris is available Mondays to Fridays from 9am to 6pm.