Lower back pain

If your lower back pain isn't going away, our spinal, neurology and orthopaedic surgeons can help

About

Low back pain (LBP) is a very common symptom that affects all age groups from the young to the elderly. It is one of the leading causes of disability. In most people with LBP a specific cause may never be found whilst in a minority there will be actual pathology which causes symptoms. Most cases of LBP resolve without active treatment but recurrence is common. In a minority the pain can become persistent and disabling. When this happens you can seek help from your doctor.

Need to know

  • Who is at risk of developing LBP? icon plus

    There are certain groups of people who are more likely to complain of LBP compared to others. Individuals working in physically demanding jobs, or who may have physical or mental health conditions, smokers and those with a high body mass.

    The cause of back pain can be multi-factorial and is therefore challenging to treat in a lot of cases. There are different ways of managing your back symptoms and you would need to discuss the best option available to you with your doctor.
  • Symptoms of lower back pain icon plus

    Lower back pain is a symptom which is representative of an underlying cause which may or may not be known. The pain typically occurs between the lower rib margins and the top of the buttocks. It can be associated with pain in one or both legs. Patients often complain of stiffness in the back as well. Some patients also have sensations of numbness, tingling and weakness in the legs.
  • Screening and diagnosis icon plus

    There are serious causes of LBP (Infection, cancer, inflammation and fractures) that require early identification and specific treatment but in most cases less invasive treatments will suffice.
    Your consultant will take your medical history and discuss your symptoms with you. This will help them to make a diagnosis and advise you on your next steps.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Treatment of LBP depends on the cause. In most cases self-management in the form of exercise and simple analgesia for pain control is all that is required. Manual therapies including physiothherapy may help if the symptoms do not settle within a few weeks. When pain has been present for a long time psychological therapies may help as well. Doctors who specialise in pain management can play an important role in controlling pain. There are other specialised treatments including injections that may be available. Surgery may also be offered where the indications are appropriate. Each case is assessed individually and your consultant will discuss your treatment options with you. 

    If you require surgery, your treatment options might include: - A discectomy, where part of a slipped disc irritating the nerve is removed - A laminectomy, where the lamina (part of your vertebra) is removed to relieve pressure on the nerves - A foraminotomy, a treatment which enlarges the spinal nerve passageway to stop the nerves from being pinched - A spinal fusion, which removes damaged cartilage disk or the lamina and fuses the spine back together - A disc replacement, where a damaged disc is replaced with a synthetic implant - A vertebroplasty, a treatment which involves injecting liquid bone cement into the vertebra to reinforce crumbling bone.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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