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Backpain is a particular curse of modern lifestyles, with desk work, poor seating and lack of exercise major factors. The best plan is to find ways to get our frame closer to its natural state.”

What is this toolkit?
The College of Medicine Self Care Toolkit is a resource for anyone to use.

We aim to provide you with reliable information for your self care that has been independently and expertly assessed. Mainly we choose options that have the evidence, and provide links so you can see that evidence for yourself. We also mention some of the most plausible and widely-used self care options around the world, where these are likely to be safe and so worth a try.

Find out more about how this resource was put together in the About Us link above.

You can choose your self care treatment options from the list below.

How do you use this?
For each treatment options you will see a row with a choice of three symbols at the top. This is what they mean.

Good evidence suggests this is well worth trying.
Some research suggests that this is worth trying.
A little research suggests this might be worth trying.
Not much research or uncertain results - however safe enough and might still be worth a try.
Costs will be from nothing to £15 per month. This category also includes options that might be available on the NHS even though getting them privately may be expensive.
Costs could be up to £50 one off or per month although may be less.
Expect to pay more than £50 per month.
No safety concerns.
Caution if you have certain health problems.


What to watch out for


This site gives you information NOT medical advice. You should consult your medical practitioner if you have any unexplained symptoms of illness or concerns about treatment. Do not stop a prescribed conventional treatment without consulting a doctor. Tell all the practitioners you’re working with, conventional or complementary, about any medicines, remedies, herbs or supplements you are taking or considering using.



What do we mean by acute low back pain?

The low back is the part between the bottom of your ribs and the crease of your buttocks. Every year in the UK, one adult in three will get back pain and about 20% of them will see their GP about it. This makes low back pain the second most common reason for seeing a GP; the commonest being digestive problems.

What causes the pain?

Most back pain is due to tension, soreness and stiffness in muscles that have been overused or overstretched. Nineteen times out of twenty, no particular cause (such as a fracture, or arthritis or a disc problem) can be found. This is why it’s often called ‘non-specific low back pain’. Typically, it feels worse if you use your back, and eases off when you are lying down flat. Generally, if you haven’t moved for a while, and the muscles tense up, it will feel worse as you start to move again, or perhaps when you roll over in bed. Non-specific low back pain is sometimes called ‘simple mechanical back pain’ because the pain is linked to movement and tension, and because it comes from the back muscles and stiff joints.

Usually, even very painful, acute (‘acute’ means it began recently) low back pain eases off after a few days. Even though the pain may be bad at first, 90% of people improve a lot or recover completely within six weeks, and often much sooner. But some people find that the pain keeps coming back. In fact, once you have had low back pain, you are more likely to get it again. But if this happens to you, you can do a lot to speed up your recovery and prevent it coming back at some point. In a few cases, it can become a persistent, ongoing problem.

Research has shown that keeping active, and regular walking, running or swimming, will help prevent this. It obviously helps to be ‘back aware’: for instance, not to twist or bend sideways when you’re trying to lift things; and to remember to use the power of your knees rather than your back when you are picking up something heavy.


What other information might be helpful?

  • Pain is stressful, and the longer you’ve had it the more likely it is to be making you tense. Tension can make pain worse. To fend off additonal complications it can often be helpful to take a short burst of painkillers, perhaps with an antiinflammatory element such as ibuprofen, in the early stages of a backpain attack.
  • If you’re feeling stressed or anxious (jumpy or having worrying thoughts that keep you awake) you might find our section on STRESS AND ANXIETY helpful.
  • If you’re feeling low or depressed, you might find the section on LOW MOOD AND DEPRESSION helpful. Depression can cause back pain. If your low mood continues through the day, it is best to go to your doctor.