Lower back pain

What is lower back pain?

Lower back pain is a very common condition and can be extremely painful. According to NHS England, lower back pain alone accounts for 11% of the total disability of the UK population. It includes any ache, pain, tension or disorder that affects the muscles or bones in the lumbar area of the back.

Common causes of lower back pain:

  • Lumbar strain or sprain
  • Sciatica
  • Slipped or prolapsed disc
  • Poor posture
  • Lifting improperly
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Spondylolisthesis

What causes lower back pain?

Lower back pain is categorised into three areas:

• Non-specific lower back pain
• Radicular syndromes
• Specific spinal pathologies

Non-specific Lower Back Pain

Non-specific lower back pain is diagnosed when no specific structure has been injured and all spinal pathologies have been excluded. The usual causes are from sudden injuries such as bending awkwardly to pick something up or overstress injuries that have occurred over a period of time due to poor posture.

These often result in muscle strains and ligament strains and can be treated with physiotherapy for effective lower back pain relief. The key is early diagnosis and a tailored treatment plan from your physiotherapist.

Radicular Syndromes (sciatica)

Radicular syndromes are lower back pain that is caused by the irritation or pinching of a nerve. This is most commonly the sciatic nerve which can result in additional pain down the leg.

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and runs all the way to your feet. Most people find the pain goes away naturally within a few weeks, but it can also last for much longer. This is the most common nerve associated with radicular syndromes, but any other spinal nerve can be affected.

This can be caused by common back injuries that increase swelling in material adjacent to the spinal nerve either irritating or compressing the nerve, thus creating the pain.

Specific Spinal Pathologies

Specific spinal pathologies require urgent and specific referral and treatment. These can include spinal infections, malignancy, spinal arthropathies, cauda equine syndrome or spinal fractures.

If you are diagnosed with a spinal pathology, then referral will need to be done quickly. Please speak to your GP for more information.

How do you treat lower back pain?

At Flex Health, we will book you in for an assessment to try to determine the best course of treatment for your lower back pain rehabilitation. Depending on the cause of your back pain, we will use a combination of different methods to maximise your recovery and get you back to optimal functioning as quickly as possible.

At your initial assessment, we will try to identify the root cause of the pain in order to understand if there are any underlying medical issues that are affecting this. With the identification of the back pain, a treatment programme will be prescribed with ongoing management to help your rehabilitation, taking away pain and reducing risk of reoccurrence.

Treatment will often result in a set of exercises (active physiotherapy), manual treatments and acupuncture. Active physiotherapy exercises include stretching, strengthening and low-impact aerobic conditioning.


Is there anything I can do to relieve lower back pain at home?

It is strongly advised that you continue to carry on with your activities as normal or as much as possible, as this can often help significantly.
There are exercises that can help, but these should be prescribed by a trained physiotherapist, as you could potentially cause further problems.

How can I reduce the risk of lower back pain?

There are simple changes that you can make to your lifestyle to lower the risk of lower back pain.