Back Pain Relief: Back Pain causes, symptoms and treatment

Top Tips for Back Pain Relief

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Back pain is a very common problem for many people. Knowing that others are going through the same thing isn’t going to ease your own back tension, but it does mean that there are many tried and true pain relief methods that have been discovered.

We'll delve into the nuances of back pain, backache, risk factors, causes, symptoms, treatment options, and when it's time to seek professional medical advice.

If you’re suffering from mild to moderate back pain and backache, the good news is that there are various ways to ease the pain using DIY remedies. It’s just a matter of finding one that works for you

What is back pain?

Back pain is a common condition characterized by discomfort or soreness in the area between the neck and the pelvis, commonly known as the back. It can range from a dull, persistent ache to sharp, sudden pain and may be caused by various factors such as muscle strain, structural issues, injury, or underlying health conditions affecting the spine. Back pain can be disruptive and affect daily life. 

Lower back pain often results from muscle strain or ligament issues and is quite common, especially among those leading a sedentary lifestyle. On the flip side, upper back pain is often linked to poor posture, muscle overuse, or even stress.  Sciatica typically stems from pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing pain that radiates down the leg. Now, understanding the nuances between these types of pain is crucial for effective care.


Back pain risk factors

  • Immobility - Prolonged sitting or lack of physical activity can contribute to back pain. Physical activity helps keep the spine flexible and strengthens supporting muscles.
  • Older Age - As we age, the spine undergoes natural wear and tear, increasing the risk of pain.
  • Excess Weight - Carrying extra pounds and poor diet can place added stress on the spine and can lead to discomfort.
  • Occupational Hazards - Jobs involving heavy lifting, straining, repetitive movements, or prolonged sitting may contribute to back pain.
  • Arthritis – a condition marked by joint inflammation, can contribute to back pain, particularly when it affects the spine's facet joints. The wear and tear on these joints due to arthritis may lead to discomfort.
  • Poor Posture - Slouching or maintaining improper posture puts extra strain on the back muscles.
  • Mental Health issues - Mental health issues and high stress can manifest physically, often in the form of back tension or pain.
  • Muscle Imbalances - Weak core muscles and imbalances in muscle strength can lead to back issues.
  • Smoking - Believe it or not, smoking can impair blood flow to the spine, affecting its health.
  • Genetics - Some individuals may be predisposed to certain spine conditions due to genetic factors.

Back Pain Causes and Symptoms

It’s surprising how many things can cause back pain. Because there are so many varying causes of back pain, we’re only going to list the most common ones here for you. If you suspect that you’re experiencing pain from something else, we highly recommend visiting your doctor and getting properly diagnosed.

  • Herniated Disc (Disk) - The rupture of a spinal disc can put pressure on nerves, resulting in back pain.
  • Arthritis - Inflammation of the joints, especially in the spine, can contribute to persistent back pain.
  • Poor Posture - Slouching or sitting improperly can strain the back muscles and lead to discomfort.
  • Muscle Strain - Overexertion or improper lifting techniques may cause strain and subsequent pain.
  • Bulging Disc - A bulging disc occurs when the outer layer of a spinal disc weakens, causing it to protrude abnormally. This can lead to localized back pain as well as potential nerve compression, contributing to radiating pain, numbness, or tingling sensations.
  • Scoliosis - An abnormal curvature of the spine may lead to chronic discomfort.
  • Osteoporosis - Weakening of the bones can make the spine more susceptible to fractures and pain.
  • Sciatica - Compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve often causes sharp pain radiating down the leg.
  • Lifestyle Factors - Sedentary habits, excess weight, and lack of exercise can contribute to back pain.
  • Stress and Tension - Emotional stress and tension can manifest physically, leading to back discomfort.
  • Spinal Stenosis - Narrowing of the spinal canal can put pressure on the spinal cord, resulting in pain.
  • Spondylosis - a condition characterized by degeneration of the spine's vertebral discs and facet joints, can result in chronic back pain. The gradual wear and tear associated with spondylosis may lead to stiffness, discomfort, and, in some cases, the development of bone spurs, contributing to ongoing back pain.

If none of the above seem to be the likely culprit for your back pain, it may be due to an underlying medical cause, such as osteoporosis or other conditions. Get it checked out with your doctor just to make sure.

Symptoms of back pain

Recognizing the symptoms of back pain is crucial for early intervention. Symptoms may include localized or radiating pain, stiffness, and discomfort. Being attuned to these signs enables individuals to seek timely care and adopt appropriate strategies for relief.

  • Sharp Back Pain - Sudden, intense pain, often indicating a specific issue.
  • Stiff back - Difficulty in moving the back freely, especially after periods of inactivity.
  • Sharp pain in the leg - Sharp pain in the leg when walking or standing could suggest a potential issue with the sciatic nerve, known as sciatica. This discomfort typically radiates from the lower back through the buttock and down the leg, indicating nerve compression, and seeking medical advice is advisable for proper diagnosis and tailored treatment.
  • Dull Aching - Persistent, mild discomfort in the back region.
  • Radiating Pain - Discomfort spreading from the back to other body parts, like legs or arms.
  • Muscle Spasms - Involuntary contractions of back muscles, causing sudden pain.
  • Numbness or Tingling - Sensations of numbness or pins-and-needles in the back or extremities.
  • Weakness - Reduced strength in the back or legs, affecting daily activities.
  • Limited Range of Motion - Difficulty bending, twisting, or performing regular movements.
  • Pain Worsening with Activity - Increased discomfort during physical exertion or specific movements.
  • Chronic Pain - Long-lasting discomfort persisting for weeks or months.

Back pain treatment

Not all back pain will respond to the same pain relief methods, but there are a handful of home remedies that most people will find helpful. These are our top tips:

  1. Move around: You may see information advising the opposite, but if you are experiencing back pain which isn’t due to a serious injury or fracture, it’s best to keep moving so your muscles can build up their strength again. You don’t have to run a marathon (and that’s certainly not recommended for back pain sufferers), but simply walking around the house or your local neighbourhood can assist in your recovery.
  2. Take a water walk: This isn’t possible for everyone, but if there is a heated public swimming pool in your area, walking laps of it can relieve pain dramatically. For those suffering quite severe muscle pain, it’s often easier and more beneficial than taking a walk out of water.
  3. The McGill Big 3: this is a set of exercises designed by Dr. Stuart McGill, a renowned spine biomechanics expert, to strengthen the core muscles and support the spine. These exercises, which include the curl-up, bird-dog, and side plank, aim to enhance spinal stability and reduce the risk of back pain. Incorporating the McGill Big 3 into a comprehensive back pain treatment plan can be beneficial, promoting better posture, improved muscle function, and overall spinal health.
  4. Light yoga: light yoga can be a gentle and effective component of back pain treatment, promoting flexibility, strength, and relaxation. Certain yoga poses, such as cat-cow stretches and child's pose, can help alleviate tension in the back muscles and improve overall spinal health. However, it's essential to approach yoga mindfully, especially if you have pre-existing conditions, and consider consulting with a healthcare professional or a qualified yoga instructor to tailor your practice to your specific needs.
  5. Practice good posture: Many people fall victim to back pain after years of sitting for long periods of time at a desk. In this environment it’s easy find yourself hunched over or not sitting correctly, which can cause problems over an extended period of time. Use a chair with good back support and remind yourself throughout the day to sit up straight with your shoulders back.
  6. Use back-safe lifting techniques: If you frequently lift heavy items, use best practice lifting techniques to ensure maximum back protection. Always squat down to pick up the item (rather than bend over) and lift using the strength of your legs. Using a back belt in tandem with safe lifting techniques has also been proven successful in preventing back injury.
  7. Use a supportive tape or bandage: After a sports injury or strain, providing extra support to the area is highly recommended. Try Elastoplast’s Adjustable Back Stabilizer or Leukoband if you need to tape your back and check out our article on tape preparation and removal for more information on how to use tape to support your back injury.
  8. Try to reduce stress: Stress can be a big cause or contributor to back pain. Review your lifestyle and see if you can cut any stressful activities from your day-to-day. Many people find yoga and meditation beneficial.
  9. Stretch: stretching is also a great pain reliever. If you don’t fancy yoga, your doctor or chiropractor may be able to recommend some simple exercises and stretches to keep your muscles active and rebuild their strength. Or check out our video library for simple exercises and stretches you can do at home.
  10.  Get plenty of sleep: While moving around can help your sore muscles recover, it’s also important for them to have sufficient rest. Make sleep a priority and ensure you’re clocking at least eight hours per night.
  11.  Heat patches, ice packs, and creams: Heat and cold therapy is a great method for temporary pain relief. You can try applying a heat or ice pack to the affected area or employ the use of a patch, gel, or cream. We recommend Elastoplast’s Sport Cold Spray for cold therapy.
  12.  Get a new mattress: If your mattress is more than seven years old and your back pain occurs mostly in the mornings, it’s probably time for a new one. Try something medium to firm and research the best options for back support.

When to see a doctor for back pain


  • Persistent Pain - If your back pain persists for more than a few weeks despite home remedies.
  • Unable to move - If you experience severe, intense or debilitating pain that interferes with daily activities.
  • Radiating Pain - When the pain extends down your leg or arm, suggesting possible nerve involvement.
  • Insomnia – Back pain and insomnia often form a challenging duo, as discomfort can make it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. The resulting sleep disturbances may contribute to a cycle of increased pain sensitivity, emphasizing the importance of addressing both insomnia and the back pain.
  • Weakness or Numbness - If you notice weakness or numbness in your legs, arms, or other body parts.
  • Fever Accompanied by Pain - If you experience back pain along with fever, which could indicate an infection.
  • Bladder or Bowel Changes - Any changes in bowel or bladder function alongside back pain may require prompt attention.
  • Unexplained Weight Loss - If you're losing weight unintentionally and experiencing back pain.
  • History of Cancer - For individuals with a history of cancer, as back pain could be related to the spine or metastasis.
  • First Episode of Back Pain - If you're over 50 and experiencing back pain for the first time.



FAQ (3)

  • How to get relief from back pain during pregnancy?

    Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees to support your back. Engage in gentle exercises, apply heat and cold therapy and use maternity belts to provide support to the lower back and abdomen. We recommend Elastoplast’s Sport Cold Spray for cold therapy and our ABC Heat Plaster or Elastoplast Spiral Heat for heat therapy.

  • What's good for back pain relief?

    For a full list see above.

    Use a supportive tape or bandage: After a sports injury or strain, providing extra support to the area is highly recommended. Try Elastoplast’s Adjustable Back Stabilizer or Leukoband if you need to tape your back and check out our article on tape preparation and removal for more information on how to use tape to support your back injury.

    Heat patches, ice packs, and creams: Heat and cold therapy is a great method for temporary pain relief. You can try applying a heat or ice pack to the affected area or employ the use of a patch, gel, or cream. We recommend Elastoplast’s Sport Cold Spray for cold therapy and our ABC Heat Plaster or Elastoplast Spiral Heat for heat therapy.

  • How to sleep with lower back pain?

    Sleep on your side with your knees bent and a pillow between them, Use a supportive mattress, roll a small towel and place it under the curve of your lower back for additional lumbar support when lying on your back. Apply a warm compress or ice pack to your lower back before bedtime to help relax muscles and reduce inflammation.

    If your lower back pain persists, consult with your healthcare provider. They can offer personalized advice and may recommend specific exercises or treatments.