Back pain, causes & prevention


Back pain is common! It is a physical discomfort occurring anywhere on the spine or back, ranging from mild to disabling. Most people will experience it at the dome stage in their lives. While it can be debilitating, there is a lot you can do to help. Common causes of back pain include being overweight, heavy lifting, poor structure, being sedentary, prolonged sitting and lying down, wearing a poorly fitting backpack or sudden awkward movements.

Estimates from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017–18 National Health estimate about 4.0 million Australians (16% of the population) have back problems. It is estimated that 70–90% of people will suffer from lower back pain in some form at some point in their lives.

A number of factors increase the likelihood that the pain will become persistent like having a negative attitude about your recovery, a history of anxiety or depression, or work-related injuries. In most cases, imaging such as X-rays, CT scans and MRIs are not needed. They can be costly and expose you to unnecessary radiation. After excluding serious causes of back pain, much of the road to recovery is up to you.

Here are some tips to improve your back pain:

  • Stay active
  • Exercise
  • Lose weight
  • Improve your posture
  • Do physiotherapy
  • Quit smoking
  • Strengthen your core
  • Relax
  • And stay positive.

Red flags

Be aware of the red flags for back pain:

  • Duration more than 6 weeks
  • Age under 18 or over 50 years old
  • Incontinence
  • Numbness/ pins & needles
  • Weight loss
  • Night pain
  • Unremitting pain
  • History of trauma
  • History of cancer
  • Fever or night sweats
  • History of IV drug use
  • Recent Surgery

Over the counter medication such as paracetamol and ibuprofen may help. Most back pain will last less than 6 weeks.

If you have concerns about your back pain or experience red flags please see your GP

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