Treating back pain for over 6 years at our back pain clinic here in London.

treating back pain

Generally, back pain is categorised in two ways as described below.
• Acute - where back pain occurs suddenly and lasts for less than three months.
• Chronic - where back pain develops gradually, over time, lasts for more than 12 weeks, and causes long-term problems.

However, most people with lower back pain experience mild pain and have occasional bouts of pain that are more severe. This can make it difficult to determine whether their back pain is acute or chronic.

Treating acute back pain

Most cases of acute back pain can be treated using self-help techniques. These are discussed below.
Over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers
Paracetamol is usually recommended to treat acute lower back pain. If paracetamol proves ineffective, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen may be used instead.

Stronger painkillers

If your back pain symptoms are severe, your GP may prescribe a mild opiate-based painkiller, such as codeine, which can be taken in combination with paracetamol or a NSAID.

Muscle relaxants

If your back pain symptoms are very severe, your GP may prescribe a muscle relaxant such as diazepam.
Diazepam can make you feel very sleepy, so do not drive if you have been prescribed this medication. After your course of diazepam has ended, you should wait at least 24 hours before driving. Diazepam will also make the effects of alcohol worse, so you should avoid alcohol while you are taking the medication.
Diazepam has the potential to be habit-forming, and can cause a number of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when coming of the medication. To minimise these effects, your GP will not usually prescribe more than seven days worth of the medicine.


It's important to remain as physically active as possible. While bed rest may provide some temporary relief from your symptoms, prolonged bed rest will make your symptoms worse.

Recommended exercises for back pain include walking and gentle stretching.
Your back pain may be so severe that you need to have some time off work. However, if this is the case, you should aim to return to work as soon as possible. While you may not feel any immediate benefit, research has shown the people who continue to work during an episode of back pain recover quicker than people who stay at home.

Compression packs

Many people with back pain find that using either hot or cold compression packs helps reduce pain. You can make you own cold compression pack by wrapping a bag of frozen food in a towel. Hot compression packs are often available from larger pharmacies. You may find it useful to use one type of pack after the other.

Treating chronic back pain

This will usually require a combination of self-help techniques and medical treatment. Treatment options are discussed below.


As with acute back pain, painkillers are usually the first method of treatment for chronic back pain. Initially, it is likely that paracetamol will be recommended, but if your back pain is severe, codeine may be prescribed.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, should only be used for long periods under the advice of your GP. If long-term treatment using NSAIDs is required, your GP may prescribe gastro-protective medicines, such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).


If your back pain is severe and does not improve with the use of painkillers, your GP may recommend a one-month trial of a medication called amitriptyline. Amitriptyline is usually used to treat depression, but it has also been found to be useful in treating nerve pain.
If you are prescribed a course of amitriptyline, you may experience some side effects including:
• drowsiness,
• dry mouth,
• blurred vision,
• constipation, and
• difficulty urinating.

You should not drive if you are taking amitriptyline and it is making you drowsy.
Amitriptyline should not be taken by people with a history of heart disease.

As with acute back pain, if you have chronic back pain, you should try to remain as physically active as possible because doing so will reduce the severity of your symptoms. It is also recommended that you continue working, or return to work as soon as possible.
Regular exercise will help to strengthen the muscles that support your back. Exercise also promotes the production of endorphins, which are natural painkilling chemicals. Ask your GP for advice about a suitable exercise plan for you.
Bending, twisting, or placing strain on your back can be painful. However, excessively protecting your back can delay return to normal activities. The trick is to be careful when making potentially painful movements, but to pace your return to full normal activity.


If you have chronic back pain, Your GP may refer you to a physiotherapist - a qualified specialist who will be able to help you to improve your range of movement.
A physiotherapist will be able to teach you exercises that strengthen the muscles that support your back, as well as improving the flexibility of your spine. They can also teach you how to improve your posture and reduce any future strain on your back.


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