Back Pain

back pain

One of the most common types of back pain is lumbago - pain in the lumbar or lower-back region. This part of the back moves the most and so is under the most pressure when a person is sitting or lifting. This may result in muscle spasm or strain. If the pain persists, visit your GP. In the meantime, consider taking anti-inflammatory pain relief tablets such as ibuprofen.

The spine consists of a series of interlocking bones called vertebrae and these are separated by discs that allow your back to bend. If a disc bulges or ‘leaks' it can trigger pain by pressing on and releasing irritant chemicals near to one or more nerve roots. This pain, called sciatica, may not just be in your back - it may go into your buttocks or legs too.
Almost everyone gets back pain at some point in their life and there are many causes. The back is a complex structure of vertebrae; discs, ligaments, tendons, nerves, muscles and the spinal cord, and so potentially there are lots of things that can go wrong.

Lower back pain is the most common type of back pain as thelower part of the back supports the entire weight of the upper body. Around 8/10 people are affected by lower back pain at some point. It is often triggered by bending awkwardly, lifting incorrectly, standing for long periods of time, slouching when sitting and driving for long periods (in a seat that is too low) without taking a break.

Different types of back pain:

The most common form of back ache is usually felt in the lower back and is called lumbago. However it is worth noting that lumbago can be felt anywhere along the spine and isn’t solely related to the lower back area. Lumbago can also show up as upper and middle back pain, which is caused mainly as a result of poor posture.

Neck Pain:
Neck pain tends to develop as a result of excess strain on the neck; this can be due to slouching, sleeping in an awkward position or working at a computer for long periods of time.

Slipped Disc:
A slipped disc is when one of the discs in the spinal cord tears and becomes herniated, allowing a portion of the damaged disc to bulge out and put pressure on the nerves in the spine or back. The pressure on the nerves creates a tingling, numb sensation that can cause anything from severe pain to only slight discomfort.

Pain in the buttocks and legs, or sciatica; this type of pain is caused when the sciatic nerve is compressed; commonly this can caused by a slipped disc, although a slipped dis doesn’t always mean that you will get sciatica or vice versa.

Whiplash is a form of pain in the upper back, neck and shoulders that is commonly caused by high impact injuries such as those caused by playing contact sports or being in a car crash or other type of high impact collision.  

Factors which make back pain worse, include:
  • Lack of exercise:
    Weak tummy muscles may be a factor as these muscles work with your back muscles to stabilise your spine. Exercise such as Yoga and Pilates can strengthen these ‘core' muscles

  • Poor posture:
    Poor posture can make backache worse. Make sure that your posture is good when sitting, standing, driving and working 

  • Driving: 
    Driving subjects the body to continual vibration and many of us sit badly when at the wheel

  • Heavy physical activity: 
    including lifting and handling of heavy loads is a major factor in making back pain worse



How to Manage Bad Back Pain?

There are a number of things you can do to manage back pain:

Keeping active is important as resting can allow the muscles in the back to weaken and delay recovery. Gentle stretching can help to ease discomfort as well as strengthening muscles in your back.

Over the counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can be taken to relieve symptoms. There are also anti-inflammatory creams and gels available that can be rubbed onto the affected area. Speak to your pharmacist who will be able to give you advice and recommend the most appropriate product.

Hot and cold packs can be bought from pharmacies and your pharmacist will be able to recommend the most appropriate one for you; hot packs tend to be more effective for back pain resulting from a sprain or tear, and cold packs if the pain is caused by inflammation.

Physiotherapy is sometimes beneficial depending on the type of back injury you have sustained.


Dealing with back pain, lumbago, sciatica, frozen shoulder - Alphega Pharmacy infographic


Additional Information:

*Voltarol Medicated Plaster - Voltarol® 140mg Medicated Plaster. For relief of pain & inflammation. Contains diclofenac sodium. Always read the label.*

**2% - Voltarol® 12 Hour Emulgel® P 2.32% Gel. For relief of pain & inflammation. Contains diclofenac diethylammonium. Always read the label.**

***1% - Voltarol® Pain-eze Emulgel®. For relief of pain & inflammation. Contains diclofenac diethylammonium. Always read the label.***


If you are suffering from of the more minor symptoms and they don’t improve within 6 weeks then please consult with your GP. If you think you are suffering from one of the more major issues such as a slipped disc or a frozen shoulder then please contact your GP at the earliest possible opportunity.


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