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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Getting help for low back pain

Whai āwhina mō te mamae ā-tuarā o raro

You may want treatment from a chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist to help you recover from your back pain. All give similar treatment 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 do not get significantly better after 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 techniques.

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

Next steps

If after five or six treatments, your back pain is not starting 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.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2022.


Page reference: 103173

Review key: HILBP-103167