The degree to which your back pain impinges on your way of living depends on a number of factors: 

  • How severe your back pain is?
  • How long it persists?
  • How active a life you lead?
  • How old are you?

Mild cases of back pain mean a couple of days away from work, or that you miss a couple of activities that you had planned. If the pain resolves itself quickly then things will soon return to normal. However, if back pain is severe and/or persists over a long period of time then it may stop you from carrying out your day-to-day activities, lower your self-confidence, disrupt, cause depression.

For the majority of people (90%), back pain will resolve, largely by itself, within 6 weeks or so. Most people (60-70%) end up taking less than a week off work as a result of back pain and 90% of these people are back at work within 2 months. 

It is when back pain lasts for longer than 3 months that recovery becomes more difficult. In the most extreme cases, some people with chronic back pain never return to work. Considering the potentially devastating impact that back pain can have on our lives, it is vital that we are able to recognize and manage it effectively. However, it is important to remember that back pain management means different things to different people. 

For most of us, mild pain relief and simple changes to our lifestyles are sufficient to make sure that we are able to cope with our pain and to ensure that it doesn’t return.  

When should I seek medical help?

Many people will be able to manage their back pain without requiring medical advice. Although most back pain usually gets better on its own, within a few weeks, it is important that you do not suffer in silence. If you become worried about your back pain or it does not seem to be getting any better, then you should make an appointment to see your Physiotherapist.

In particular, you should consult your Physiotherapist if your pain lasts longer than a week or is as a result of a fall or a blow to the back (e.g. a car accident or sporting injury). You should also consult your Physiotherapist if your back pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:

  • High temperature
  • Redness or swelling on the back
  • Pain down the legs and below the knees
  • Numbness or weakness in one or both legs
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control