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Back Pain Advice

Back pain is one of the commonest musculo-skeletal problems affecting human populations. Most adults have an episode of back pain at some time in their lives. For most of us these episodes are a nuisance and we get over them and get on with things.

However, for some people back pain is a long-term and disabling condition, interfering severely with their lives and limiting their options. Depression is a common occurrence with chronic back pain and adds to the problems.

Are you older and suffering from acute back pain?

Older people have back pain and may accept it just as one of the problems of getting old. However, spinal compression fractures from osteoporotic change are becoming more common as we get older. It is important to get this diagnosed and treated properly to prevent future problems.

Spinal surgery advice sheets

It can be useful to read the kind of advice sheets you may be given when you are considering or about to undergo spinal surgery. See the:

Segmental decompression advice sheet
Fusion advice sheet
Disc replacement advice sheet
Micro-discectomy advice sheet

Injections for low back and leg pain

Injections are common interventions for low back pain, leg pain and sacro-iliac joint pain. See Injections for low back and leg pain for details on these procedures.


Pain in the leg or legs is common in spinal syndromes, but what does it mean and is it important? Many people do not have a clear view of this kind of leg pain and so have a look at sciatica and see what you think.

Back and leg pain in older people

Back pain is common in older people too and age related changes in the spine can give buttock and leg pain in walking, which could be spinal stenosis.


Treatment for back pain is a vexed subject as there is no really good evidence that any treatment is much better than just getting on with life. Manipulation may be useful in the first month or so after onset of pain, other treatments have their advocates among back pain sufferers and many millions of people consult various practitioners every year. Every so often a new treatment comes up and gets lots of publicity, being hailed as the answer to back pain. The latest idea to claim to make a significant difference to back pain sufferers is intradiscal electrothermy.

Overactivity cycle

When you’ve got pain it’s easy to fall into the trap of pushing yourself to get things done. Afterwards you have to face the music as the pain increases severely. If you keep this pattern up for long enough you will find that you are becoming more disabled with time and you pain may be increasing. Read more of the detail in the over/underactivity cycle.


Trying to maintain normal activities in the face of pain is hard and forces us to compromise. However, it is difficult to set a suitable level of activity for a challenging activity. See pacing to find out how to work out the correct level of activity for you.

Core stability

This stuff is in the news a lot these days but there does seem to be something to it. There is some good evidence that muscle stability in the lumbar spine is important in the generation and prevention of low back pain. The closest technique in non-medical circles is Pilates and you may find it worthwhile enrolling in such a class or programme. Read about core stability problems and core stability exercises or gym ball work in these pages.


It can help your understanding of low back pain if you have some ideas of the underlying anatomy and function of the spine. Check out the structure of the backbone here and I will add sections as I do them.

Look at the structure of a typical lumbar vertebra here.

For help with treatment of back pain please call the physiotherapy network on 0845 680 0619 

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