Low Back Pain

Low Back Pain is a common muscle joint and bone symptom.

We have designed a three-step approach to help you understand your options and encourage you to think about all of the things that might be affecting your problem.

Where is it felt?

Common symptoms include pain, stiffness, and muscle spasms.

These can be felt between the bottom of the rib cage and the lower back and buttocks area.

How could it affect me?

  • The symptoms can be felt with simple day to day activities such as sitting, bending, lifting, walking and exercise
  • Low back pain can affect our ability to carry out daily activities, including work and hobbies
  • At times the pain can feel severe and for some be ongoing. This can affect our general well-being and mental health

Why does it happen?

Low back pain problems can start because of an injury (for example fall or twisting incident), from doing more than you normally do (for example increased lifting or increased exercise) or it can start for no obvious reason.

Factors that may increase the risk of ongoing low back pain include previous back pain, obesity, smoking, educational status, stress, anxiety, depression, work issues and whole-body vibration jobs.

It can affect any of us at any age.

Is it serious?

Although the pain and disability caused by an episode or flare of low back pain can be severe at first, very rarely are the symptoms a sign of something serious going on.

However, you will need to see your GP urgently or contact 111 for urgent help if:

If you are experiencing back pain with our without leg symptoms, alongside

  • New or worsening problems starting or stopping passing urine (water)
  • New or worsening problems starting or stopping opening the bowels (including soiling yourself)
  • New or worsening numbness or altered sensation around the genitals or anus (back passage)

If you have back pain with leg symptoms and a weakness in your leg or foot muscles seek further help or see your GP.

If you are feeling unwell, sick or have fever with low back pain make an appointment at your GP practice.

Will it get better?

The answer for most people is yes as most symptoms will ease in the first 2 to 6 weeks for a new onset of back pain or a flare-up of longstanding low back pain.  It can take some people longer to get back to their normal and some describe ongoing problems.

Taking steps to look after your physical and mental health can give the best opportunity of a successful recovery.

What can I do to help myself?

Some of the most important things you can do to help your low back pain are related to your lifestyle choices and general health. We have provided some useful links to help guide you through.

The information in Step Two and Step Three explains the factors that can affect the severity and impact of muscle joint and bone symptoms.

Step Two explains the factors that may be contributing to your situation.

Step Three explains self-management advice on what you can do to help yourself.

Following the 3-step process will help you make the most out of the information on this website.

Learn more about:

If you want further information on low back pain consider reading these trusted resources:

What can be done to help me?

An assessment of your problem and treatment may be necessary if the self-management advice in Step 3 does not help. Consider seeking further help.

If you continue to be concerned about the symptoms you are experiencing and are unsure what to do contact your GP practice or ring NHS Wales 111.