Lower back pain and sciatica

Lower back pain is a common condition which will affect 85% of people at some point in their life.  It can be a very painful, but is rarely caused by a serious problem.   The most common type of back pain is “non-specific” lower back pain (sometimes called mechanical lower back pain) and does not always have an obvious cause.  It is usually caused by a combination of factors, such as tightness of the joints, weakness of the muscles and sitting in the same position for too long.  Other factors such as stress, worries about pain or lack of regular exercise can also be related to back pain.

Back problems do not benefit from rest and you should try and keep as active as possible.  Usually, even severe bouts of pain will ease off more quickly if you keep active than if you rest.  Doing back exercises can help to ease your symptoms, although you may have to do these for a while before you start to feel the benefit.

Sometimes back problems can cause pain, pins and needles and numbness into the legs, which is commonly referred to as sciatica.  This is rarely a cause for concern and is normally treated in the same way as non-specific back pain.  Occasionally, sciatica can be caused by irritation to nerves in the lower back and other investigations and treatments might be required.  It is very rare that surgery is required for back problems.


Useful Links

More information about back pain can be found on the Arthritis Research UK website.

A short video about how to manage your back pain can also be found on YouTube.  

Videos of your back exercises can also be found in our exercise videos section.