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Help for lower back pain Back to Advice Hub

People develop back pain for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes the cause is known - a slipped disc might show up on an MRI, or the back might be injured during sport, for example - and sometimes it is simply diagnosed as 'nonspecific lower back pain'. Regardless of the specific diagnosis, lower back pain can be uncomfortable at best and excruciating at worst, and if you are a sufferer then you will want to know how best to manage your pain and give yourself the best chance of recovery. The general advice for treating lower back pain is very different now than it was a few years ago. Historically people were told to rest their backs and had to take time off work to recover in bed. Now the firm advice from doctors is to keep moving as this will aid your recovery time. As soon as you are physically able to move, then carry on with your normal day to day life; you might not be very comfortable but your back will be healing. Painkillers will help to take the edge off the worst of the pain so take them as directed - stagger paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin throughout the day to keep up a continual dose of pain relief without overdosing on any one type (always read the labels). Think carefully about your daily life. Have you changed anything recently? Some people realise that they have moved their car seat forwards or backwards slightly and need to readjust their seating position when driving. Check your mattress; is it sagging? Is it comfortable? You spend up to a third of your day lying on your mattress and it is important that your back is properly supported during that time; if yours is uncomfortable or is showing signs of wear and tear then it is probably time to get a new one. The firmness of a mattress and the support it will offer your spine is unique to you, but anecdotally medium firmness mattresses seem to offer the best support and relieve discomfort most effectively. Once you are satisfied with a mattress that is just right, sleep in the most comfortable position you can, perhaps with a pillow propped between your knees to straighten out your hip alignment. A warm bath or hot water bottle can also offer relief from discomfort.