Lower back pain is a common ailment and can have several different causes. For example, it could be caused by:
- Physically strenuous activities and/or work.
- Overloading of the lower back. Possibly because you’ve bent or twisted your lower back too much.
- Too long a car journey. This can result in very stiff and hard back muscles.
- Being overweight.
- A back condition. A hernia, for example.
These causes could all cause the muscles, joints and/or ligaments in your back to be temporarily out of shape. The back pain could either come on gradually, but also very suddenly. The severity and frequency will depend on the cause.
The symptoms can differ per cause and/or condition. However, there are a few general symptoms which are common with lower back pain. These include:
- A dull, nagging or severe pain.
- Pain which radiates to one or both thighs.
- Pain which radiates to the buttocks.
- Pain when standing up or sitting down for too long.
- Having trouble moving or turning your body.
- Having trouble moving or bending your lower back.
- Having stiff back muscles.
You will usually have these symptoms if you’re suffering from normal and common pain in the lower back. This pain is often harmless and will go away on its own.
There are a number of things you can do about reducing or resolving the pain in your lower back yourself. For example, we recommend you:
- Keep moving as much as possible. Movement means your back will recover faster. Make sure you build up the movement slowly and don’t overload your back.
- Stick to your daily activities as much as possible.
- Regularly change position. For example, stand up or walk around for a while if you’ve been sitting down for a long time.
- Make sure you adopt the correct posture. For example, bend your knees while lifting and keep your back straight as you rise, or sit in a well-adjusted chair.
- Do not lie down in your bed or on the couch too much. If lying down is comfortable for you, make sure you only do this for a few hours during the day. Lying down won’t promote your recovery.
- Reduce your stress. Regularly schedule some relaxing activities and make sure you get enough sleep.
- Discuss your complaints with your employer and company doctor if they are caused by the work you do. For example, an adjustment in your work or working environment may be necessary.
- Take paracetamol for severe pain. Carefully read the package leaflet for the correct dosage. You can also put gel containing diclofenac or ibuprofen on your lower back. Carefully read the package leaflet before using these products, or obtain advice from the pharmacy staff.
We recommend contacting your GP if:
- Your symptoms persist for 4 weeks or more. These have not improved in the interim period. Your GP will investigate the cause and advise you on the next steps.