Emergency Department and Minor Injury Unit
You have been given this information because you have been diagnosed with a back injury. Back pain is a common problem that affects most people at some point in their life.
It may be triggered by bad posture while sitting or standing, bending awkwardly, or lifting incorrectly. It is not generally caused by a serious condition, most cases of back pain get better on their own within a few weeks.
Most cases are simple sprains and strains. Sometimes, back pain can be caused by conditions such as a slipped disc. This may lead to pain, numbness and tingling that travels down one leg.
Treating a back injury
Initially, back pain is usually treated with over-the-counter painkillers and home treatments. People who remain active are likely to recover quicker.
Try to move around as soon as you can, and aim to do a little more each day.
The following exercises may help:
- Lying on your back with knees bent and arms by your side. Tighten your stomach muscles and press the small of your back against the floor, letting your bottom rise. Hold for 5 seconds and then relax.
- Lying on your back, with knees together and bent. Slowly roll your knees from side to side, keeping your upper body still.
- Lying on your back with one leg bent. Bring your bent knee over the other leg and push your knee against the floor with the opposite hand. Then reach with the other arm to the opposite side looking in the same direction. You will feel the stretching in your lower back and bottom. Hold for approximately 10 seconds and then relax.
Recovering after a back injury
Your pain should ease within a 4 to 6 week period.
You should make an appointment to see your General Practitioner if it has not settled within this time.
You should seek urgent medical help if you have back pain and:
- a high temperature (fever)
- a loss of bladder or bowel control, or an inability to pass urine
- unexplained weight loss
- numbness around your genitals, buttocks or back passage
If needed, pain medication options include the following:
Paracetamol is usually recommended for painful sprains or strains.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) relieve pain and may also limit inflammation and swelling. You can buy some types (for example, ibuprofen) at pharmacies, without a prescription either topically as a cream, or as tablets.
You should check the medication advice leaflet to ensure you are safe to take these as some patients with asthma or stomach ulcers may not be able to.
For further advice and information about your condition, please choose from the following:
- ‘NHS Patient Choices’ website: www.nhs.uk
- ‘Making Lives Better’ patient website: www.patient.info
- Telephone NHS 111
- Contact your General Practitioner
- The James Cook University Hospital, Marton Road, Middlesbrough, TS4 3BW
Telephone: 01642 850850
- The Friarage, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DL6 1JG
Telephone: 01609 779911
- Redcar Primary Care Hospital, West Dyke Road, Redcar, TS10 4NW
Telephone: 01642 511000
If you have any medical concerns or need advice please contact 111, for further information regarding this leaflet please contact [email protected]
This email will be monitored 9am-4pm Monday to Friday.
Email: s[email protected]
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like your feedback. If you wish to share your experience about your care and treatment or on behalf of a patient, please contact The Patient Experience Department who will advise you on how best to do this.
This service is based at The James Cook University Hospital but also covers the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, our community hospitals and community health services.