Indonesia Expat
Featured Sports/Health


Back Pain

A complaint we hear very often is back pain. Back pain, particularly lower back pain, is very common.

Normally the symptoms improve within a few weeks but the pain sometimes lasts longer or it can be recurrent. There are things you can do to help ease the pain.

Causes of back pain

Back pain can have many causes. It’s not always clear what the pain is caused by. Often the pain gets better on its own. A common cause of back pain is an injury like a pulled muscle (a strain). Sometimes, medical conditions like a slipped disc, sciatica (a trapped nerve) or ankylosing spondylitis (inflammation of the bones in the spine) can cause back pain. Very rarely, back pain can be a sign of a serious problem such as a broken bone, cancer or an infection.

How can you ease back pain yourself?

Back pain often improves on its own within a few weeks. There are things you can do to help you recover more quickly.


Stay active and try to continue with your daily activities

  • Take anti-inflammatory medicine like Ibuprofen – paracetamol on its own is not recommended for back pain but it may be used with another painkiller
  • Use an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a tea towel to reduce swelling and pain
  • Use a heat pack (or hot water bottle) wrapped in a tea towel to relieve joint stiffness or muscle spasms
  • Try doing some exercises and stretches for back pain


  • Do not stay in bed for periods of time.
Exercises and stretches for back pain

There are specific exercises and stretches you can do to help with back pain, a physiotherapist can help you with that. But stop if your pain gets worse and see a GP for advice.

Activities like walking, swimming, yoga and pilates may also help ease back pain.

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
  • Back pain does not improve after treating it at home by yourself for a few weeks
  • The pain is affecting you doing your daily activities
  • The pain is severe and is getting worse over time
  • You’re concerned about the pain or you’re having difficulty coping
More urgent advice to see your GP

You have back pain and:

  • A high temperature
  • You lose weight without trying to
  • There’s a lump or swelling in your back or your back has changed shape
  • The pain does not improve after resting or is worse at night
  • The pain worsens on sneezing, coughing or pooing
  • The pain is coming from the top of your back (between your shoulders), rather than your lower back

You should present to an Emergency department at a hospital when you have back pain AND:

  • Pain, tingling, weakness or numbness in both legs
  • Numbness or tingling around your genitals or buttocks
  • Difficulty peeing
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control (no control over peeing or pooing)
  • Chest pain
  • It started after a serious accident, such as a car accident
Treatments for back pain

If your back pain is severe or not getting better, a GP may prescribe painkillers or medicines to relax the muscles in your back.

Other treatment options if your pain does not get better after a few weeks include:

  • Group exercise sessions and physiotherapy
  • Manual therapy – where a trained therapist massages and moves the muscles, bones and joints in your back.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy CBT to help you cope with the pain
  • A procedure to seal off (to provide a blockage) some of the nerves in your back so they stop sending pain signals (only for long-term lower back pain)

If your back pain is caused by a medical condition like a slipped disc and other treatments have not helped, surgery may be an option.

It is important that you identify a clinic you are comfortable with. Good Practice registered patients from 77 countries. Our English-speaking team implements international guidelines. We provide highly personalised care. Try us!

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