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HealthInfo Canterbury

Pain relief & professional treatment for back pain

back pain medsAs well as exercise and watching your posture, you may want some pain relief (painkillers). If so, take it regularly, as that is more likely to ease the pain enough to let you exercise and stay active. Pain relief will not completely take the pain away but it will take the edge off it.

If you feel that pain relief medicines aren't helping, talk to your GP about other options.

Physical treatments

You may want treatment from a chiropractor, osteopath, or physiotherapist, to help you recover from your back pain. All three are very similar and can be effective – choose the one that suits you best.

You can expect whichever health professional you choose to thoroughly assess you, advise you on how you can help yourself, and give you an individual treatment plan. This plan will include exercises and manual therapy.

If you don't get significantly better within five to six treatments, talk to your therapist or GP about what other options you have.

Structured exercise programme

Your exercise programme might include flexion (bending forward) and extension (bending backward), strengthening, aerobic exercise (like walking, swimming or cycling), general fitness, or a combination of these. It might include supervised exercise sessions, or exercises you can do at home.

Manual therapy

Manual therapy includes spinal mobilisation and spinal manipulation.

Manipulation involves moving a joint in your spine more than it would normally move. Mobilisation involves moving a joint in your spine within the range it would normally move. Once they have examined you and talked about the options, the therapist may use one or both of them.

Manual therapy may also include massage, techniques to reduce tension, and checking how well the joints in your spine are working.

What happens next?

If after five or six treatments your back pain is not beginning to get better, talk to your health professional about other treatment options.

If your pain lasts for more than three months the information in the chronic (persistent) pain section may be helpful.

On the next page: How to stop low back pain coming back

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by Canterbury Initiative low back pain workgroup. Last reviewed March 2017.


Page reference: 103173

Review key: HILBP-103167