Managing low back pain and sciatica

Back problems are most often due to a simple injury to back structures and are usually not due to something serious. Ways to reduce to recovery time include:

Stay active – Don’t rest for too long with low back pain

Bed rest may be needed for sudden and severe pain but only for a very short time, generally no more than two days. Too much bed rest lengthens recovery time and prolongs pain.

The best thing for you to do to is remain active. Taking regular pain medication is often important to help keep you moving. Talk to your doctor about what medication is best for you.

Keep doing your everyday activities and remain at work

Back pain and sciatica need not stop you from doing all of the things you want to do. Be aware of the activities that make the pain worse and avoid things like excessive lifting and staying in the one position for too long.

Exercise for low back pain recovery

Staying gently active through stretching, gentle exercising and walking will help your back to recover. Begin to exercise regularly, for short periods of time and gradually increase the amount you do as it feels more comfortable.

Movement helps to stop you back becoming stiff and your muscles from weakening, allowing you to return to normal activity as soon as possible. Even if movement causes some extra pain you will not be harming your back.

Quit smoking to assist recovery from low back pain

Smoking can slow down and interfere with the healing of bones, skin and other body tissues. This means that your recovery time can be slower or less complete if you smoke. If you do require an operation, you will have a much higher risk of complications during and after your surgery. Doctors strongly recommend you should quit smoking at least eight weeks before an operation.

More information

For more information on how to manage low back pain and sciatica, please see the below fact sheets.