Back Pain

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Back Pain in Adults

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Do you suffer from back pain? If a sore back affects your ability to get on with your day, you’re not alone. Back pain can be felt anywhere from the neck down to the hips and symptoms can vary from a dull ache, to shooting pains or spasms in your lower back muscles, or your middle or upper back.

For most people, the good news is a sore back is usually temporary – and with the right management you will probably feel better in a few days or weeks. However, if the pain persists or goes on longer than you think it should, speak to your doctor.

Types of back pain

  • Lower back pain: Lower back pain is the most common type of back problem and is thought to affect as many as 80% of people at some time. Lower back pain is usually felt in the area between the bottom of the ribcage and the top of the legs.
  • Upper and middle back pain: This type of back pain is felt between the base of the neck and bottom of the ribcage. Upper back pain is less common than lower back pain and poor posture is a common cause.

To get you started on the road to recovery, here’s the low-down on common causes of back pain, what you can do to help get back pain relief, and tips on how to help prevent lower back injury.

What puts the pain in back pain? 

It’s not always possible to identify the specific cause of back pain but most cases are classed as either ‘non-specific’ (no obvious cause) or ‘mechanical’ (pain originates from the joints, bones tissue around the spine).

Section 713 Lifting Illustration

Some of the most common causes of back pain are:

  • Lifting incorrectly
  • Overstretching during lifting, bending or twisting
  • Bad posture
  • Poor sleeping position or a sagging mattress
  • Lack of exercise 

With increased risk factors of back pain being: 

  • Being overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • Stress
  • Smoking

You’re more likely to suffer from back pain as you get older – it’s most common in people between the ages of 30 and 50.

You’re also more likely to get back pain if you don’t normally exercise and sit at a desk for extended periods. But sometimes you get back pain because you’ve exercised too much! It’s about finding the right balance.

Tips to help manage back pain

There are several things you can do to reduce the risk of lower back pain:

  • Lift correctly and avoid heavy items: use your legs and not your back
  • Don’t slouch when standing or sitting
  • Keep good posture at all times
  • Exercise regularly and control your weight
  • Avoid smoking
  • Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes
  • Sleep on your side to minimise any curve in your spine and use a firm mattress

How can you relieve back pain?

When you’ve got back pain, it may be tempting to climb into bed and stay there. But there are simple things you can do in the first 2-3 days to help relieve a sore back and speed your recovery: 

  • Self-care: ice your back for 20 minutes every 1-2 hours when awake; making sure not to apply ice directly onto skin. For the first few days you should avoid applying heat to your back, or indulging in alcohol and massage (even if it feels nice). This will increase inflammation and swelling in your tissues. After 2-3 days you can introduce heat patches to help soothe your aching muscles.
  • Stay active: avoid activities you don’t need to do – but keep up gentle movement if you can and stretch regularly. Exercises for low back pain can be an effective way to speed healing. If you’re unsure, ask your physiotherapist to show you back stretches and back strengthening exercises that can aid your recovery.
  • Keep moving: avoid staying in one position (e.g. sitting at your computer, watching TV or lying down) for longer than 20-30 minutes at a time. The sooner you can move normally again, the better your back will feel.
  • Control the pain: taking a simple pain reliever, like Nurofen, may help you to stay active by helping to provide temporary respite from mild-moderate back pain relief. If you are over 65 years, taking other medicines, pregnant or breastfeeding, seek advice from your healthcare professional first.
  • Be positive: if your back pain is making you frustrated or irritable, try not to let it control you. Practising some simple relaxation and breathing techniques may help you to cope while your back heals.

See your doctor if your back pain does not improve over time or you have any other symptoms that worry you (e.g. fever, difficulty passing urine, weakness, numbness, or pins and needles in your legs)


Here at Nurofen we have a range of products which can help to provide relief for back pain.

Nurofen 5% W/W Gel is absorbed directly into the skin at the source of the pain. It contains ibuprofen – well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and can help to provide relief for back pain. *

Nurofen Express 200mg Tablets provide targeted pain relief. They are absorbed up to twice as quickly as standard ibuprofen and help to relieve a number of aches and pains, including back pain.**

When to see a doctor

In most cases back pain will usually get better on its own within a few weeks or months. If your back pain is not improving, or seems to be getting worse it’s a good idea to speak to a medical professional.

You should speak to your doctor if:

  • Your back pain does not improve over time (within a few weeks)
  • The pain is stopping you from going about your normal day-to-day life
  • The pain is getting worse over time
  • You have any other symptoms that worry you (e.g. fever, difficulty passing urine, weakness, numbness, or pins and needles in your legs)

*Nurofen Express 5% W/W Gel contains Ibuprofen. For Pain Relief. Always Read the Label.

**Nurofen Express 200mg Tablets contain Ibuprofen (as sodium dihydrate). For Pain Relief. Always Read the Label.