Is back pain common?
Back pain is a term that relates to a pain problem that occurs anywhere between the rib-cage and the buttocks. It may also be associated with pain referring down the buttocks, legs and to the groin region. Common labels used to describe it are:
Pain in the back is very common. It rarely presents below the age of 10; however, it is common during adolescence and becomes even more prevalent through life.
It often occurs with other pain problems such as hip pain, pelvic pain, neck pain and headaches. Problems such as incontinence are also common with it.
Up to 80% of the population will experience this type of pain in their life, and most people (70%) who get back pain will recover to a large degree, although recurrences are common.
For a smaller group of people (up to 30%) it may become distressing, persistent (lasting beyond 6-12 weeks), disrupt many aspects of a person’s life and need treatment.
This can include limitations in the ability to do activities of daily living, exercise, work and participate in social activities. This can be very scary and lead to anxiety and depressed mood in many people. This is why back pain is the leading cause of disability. It is important to know that it is very rare (1-2%) for this pain to be caused by a serious health problem such as cancer, fracture, infection or inflammatory disorder.
The below videos summarise a research paper co-authored by Body Logic Physiotherapists Professor Peter O’Sullivan, and Dr JP Caneiro. Find out more about the videos here.
Back pain risk factors
Pain in the back is usually linked to things like: being stressed and tense, run-down, carrying too much weight around the belly, sleeping poorly, low mood, inactivity, smoking, poor conditioning, overdoing it and doing things we are not fit for.
This can make your spine’s structures very sensitive. The good thing is that many of these things can be modified and you can seek effective back pain treatment.
Myths about back pain
Approaching back pain
Acute back pain can be really scary and painful. This can occur with awkward or unaccustomed movements of the back. Usually, it is associated with muscle spasm where the back gets locked up making it very difficult to move. This usually settles within a few days. Although it’s scary, it’s important to try and stay mobile and active as possible. Our team can provide guidance in dealing with your pain.
When your pain persists beyond 6-12 weeks, it is important to identify the factors that are keeping the spine sensitive in order to address them. These factors can include: having a negative mindset about the back (“my back is damaged and can’t be trusted”), high levels of stress, worries or anxiety, low mood, fear of pain and or movement, avoidance of movement and activity, resting too much, carrying excessive weight (especially around the belly).
These factors can cause changes to the nervous system making the spine’s structures very sensitive. Over-tensing the ‘core’ muscles and over-protecting or stiffening the spine can also be unhelpful, leading to more pain – a bit like clenching the fist all the time.
Whether associated with inactivity, feeling tired or run-down, poor or limited sleep, tensing, protecting the back and avoiding movement, there are many things you can do for back pain treatment. Avoiding work, social engagements and fearing pain will usually heighten it.
The best treatment is understanding the pain, staying active, having good sleeping habits and developing a positive mindset.
Facts about back pain
Treatment of back pain
If your pain is acute (sudden onset), the key to your back pain treatment is to help you to get comfortable and moving as this helps with recovery. We will also identify the factors that caused the pain in your back and make a treatment plan to prevent it in the future.
If your pain is persistent (longer than 6-12 weeks), we will work out a plan with you to help you take control of your pain, obtain treatment, and get back to living based on your goals.
Back pain treatment may involve some hands-on techniques to relax you and get you moving, coaching you in body relaxation, training you to restore relaxed spinal movement, help you get strong and confident, resumption of physical activity and where relevant sleep rehabilitation.
A long-term plan is the key to prevent pain from recurring and stop it interfering in your life. We also work with your doctor and/or psychologist if additional care is needed.
At Body Logic Physiotherapy, we are not interested in ongoing band-aid treatments for your pain. We know that the best approach to management is to help you understand why you have pain, and get you back in control, moving, active and living again.
For some people this may take 2-3 sessions; however, for long term problems, this may take up to 7-10 sessions over a 3-4 month period. We also offer supervised exercise rehabilitation classes and one-to-one sessions to support this process if needed.
we offer a range of services
we offer a range of services
Find the service you need below
To find out more about back pain treatment, check out
All You Ever Wanted To Know About Back Pain by Dr Mary O’Keeffe and Dr Kieran O’Sullivan.
David Hanscom is a prominent spinal surgeon on a mission for change. In this article on avoiding spinal surgery, he discusses how to know whether you need spinal surgery for low back pain.
Professor Ian Harris features on the Body Logic ‘Empowered Beyond Pain’ podcast discussing whether surgery is necessary.
Professor Peter O’Sullivan separates fact from fiction when it comes to back pain: Click Here
‘Core stability’: A discussion with Peter O’Sullivan on core stability and the myth of how it affects chronic low back pain: Click Here