Back pain can have a range of causes, from an injury or muscle strain to more serious conditions such as arthritis. If your back pain doesn’t improve within a few weeks and gets worse you should see your GP, who can rule out any serious causes like a slipped disc. But if your back pain isn’t caused by anything major, you can help symptoms by keeping active. The NHS advises one of the most important things you can do is to keep moving and continue with your normal activities as much as possible. it says: “It used to be thought that bed rest would help you recover from a bad back, but it’s now known that people who remain active are likely to recover more quickly.
“This may be difficult at first, but don’t be discouraged – your pain will start to improve eventually.”
The health body says simple back exercises and stretches can often help reduce back pain, and that these can be carried out at home.
Arthritis Research UK recommends five for you to try.
Knees to chest
Lie on your back, knees bent. Bring one knee up and pull it gently into your chest for five seconds. Repeat up to five times on each side.
Lie on your back, hands above your head. Bend your knees and roll them slowly to one side, keeping your feet on the floor. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat three times on each side.
Lie down with your knees bent. Tighten your stomach muscles flattening your back against the floor. Hold for five seconds. Repeat five times.
Holding onto something for support if needed, bend one leg up behind you. Hold for five seconds. Repeat three times on each side.
Kneel on one knee, the other foot in front. Facing forwards, lift the back knee up. Hold for five seconds. Repeat three times on each side.
Bupa offers some additional tips, alongside keeping active, to help relieve lower back pain.
It says: “Take over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs, for example ibuprofen) if you need pain relief. Paracetamol alone probably doesn’t work well for back pain. You should only take these medicines for a short time, not for long-term back pain.
“You may want to try applying heat or cold treatments to your back. Remember not to apply ice directly to your skin.
“You may find it helps to sleep with a small cushion between your knees, if you sleep on your side. Or with some firm pillows under your knees, if sleeping on your back.”