Lower back pain decoder
Lower back pain decoder

Painful pangs in your lower back can be caused by something as simple as sitting in an awkward position or lifting something the wrong way.

Many types of back pain will settle down within days or weeks and can be treated with pain relief and a bit of TLC.

But sometimes those pains relate to more serious issues that require medical advice and treatment.

The Live Well guide to lower back pain will help you identify what’s causing your pain and what your next steps should be.

SCIATICA
If the centre of the pain is in your lower back and radiates down your leg, perhaps accompanied by a tingling or ‘pins and needles’ sensation, then you could have sciatica.

Sciatica is caused when the sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed. The sciatic nerve runs from the back of your pelvis all the way down to your feet, which is why sciatica can give you pain in your legs.

Pain related to sciatica can range from mild to intense.

What to do about sciatica
Some people with mild sciatic pain find that it resolves itself within a few weeks.

You can manage mild sciatica by taking things easy for a while, using ice packs or hot water bottles to ease the pain, doing some gentle exercise such as walking, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers as necessary.

Pain relief that includes an anti-inflammatory, such as Nurofen, can be helpful for sciatic pain.

If the sciatic pain is intense or if there is no improvement within the first week, then you should see your doctor.

Your doctor is likely to recommend pain relief, and may also suggest physiotherapy treatments.

Your doctor may tell you that your sciatica is caused by a slipped disc, meaning that one of the discs in your spine has ruptured, putting pressure on your sciatic nerve.

If you have a slipped disc, your doctor will probably recommend pain relief and physiotherapy treatments. You may also like to try chiropracty or osteopathy. In some cases, surgery is recommended.

Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional.

SACROILIITIS

If there is pain and stiffness in your lower back and buttocks, possibly extending to your groin and legs, and if it it seems to get worse after long periods of standing or stair climbing, then you may have sacroiliitis.

Sacroiliitis is the inflammation of the sacroiliac joints where your lower spine and your pelvis connect.

Sacroiliitis can be brought on by an injury (particularly vehicle accidents) or pregnancy (when the sacroiliac joints loosen in anticipation of childbirth). Sometimes, sacroiliitis is related to arthritis.


What to do about sacroiliitis
It’s important to see your doctor if you have pain in your sacroiliac joints.

That’s because there are a number of different possible causes for sacroiliitis, each requiring different strategies for treatment.

Sometimes over-the-counter pain relief will help ease pain, particularly ibuprofen-based medications like Nurofen.

Your doctor may recommend the use of muscle relaxants. In some cases, a doctor will suggest physiotherapy to increase muscle strength and flexibility.

In very serious cases, surgery may be required.

Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional.

PULLED MUSCLES

If the pain came on suddenly and is centred in your lower back without extending into your groin, buttocks or legs, and is accompanied by spasms, then you could have pulled a muscle.

The pain from a pulled muscle may ease while resting and then return when you start moving again.

You can pull or strain a muscle while playing sport or through everyday activities like lifting, especially lifting and twisting at the same time. You can also get it from a sudden movement or fall.


What to do about a pulled muscle

You can manage the pain of a pulled muscle yourself with over-the-counter pain relief.

Choose an ibuprofen-based product like Nurofen, which contains an anti-inflammatory and may help relieve discomfort. Heat packs or a hot water bottle can also ease the pain.

If you are concerned about your health, or if the pain continues for more than a few days, see your doctor.

Your doctor may suggest other medications, including muscle relaxants, or may refer you for physiotherapy treatments.

Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional.

For more see How to Look After Your Back on the Daily Commute


LIVE WELL RECOMMENDS

Nurofen Zavance
Nurofen Zavance is fast and effective in the temporary relief of pain and/or inflammation associated with muscular pain back pain. Absorbed up to twice as fast as standard Nurofen. Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional.

Nurofen Gel
Nurofen Gel is gently rubbed into the skin for the temporary relief of pain and inflammation associated with acute soft tissue injuries including sprains, strains and sports injuries. Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional.

Nurofen Back Pain Heat Packs
Nurofen Back Pain Heat Packs contain natural minerals that heat up when exposed to the air to target pain and stiffness with soothing, muscle-relaxing heat. Heat Packs are held in place with a low irritancy adhesive and can be worn under clothes without discomfort. Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional.