Back pain has been recognised as the second major cause of absenteeism in Ireland. The story is no different worldwide. The sad part is, according to various studies, over the counter painkillers such as Paracetamol, Ibuprofen offer negligible pain relief for low back pain.

Back Pain by Physio Naas

A recent study featured in the British Medical Journal analysed more than a dozen clinical trials. They found that not only was paracetamol ineffective in relieving back pain but that it can result in abnormal liver function.

Another recent study done in Australia also indicates that regular consumption of painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen (Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory pills) do very little in terms of easing back ache. On the contrary these drugs can actually harm the gastrointestinal lining and increase the risk of stomach ulcers by 2.5%. They also up the risk for strokes and heart attacks. Other stronger drugs such as cocodamol (combination of paracetamol and codeine) may relieve acute pain, but can be addictive if taken for a longer time.

With painkillers now proven almost ineffective for long standing back pain, the question arises: “What is the best way to tackle back pain?”

Medication pills for back pain


Exercise and Movement

Believe it or not, movement and not rest is the best way to get rid of nagging back pain and stiffness. In approximately 90% of the back pain cases, changing the way you sit, lift and move provides long lasting effects.

Here are some effective ways to tackle the back pain problem

  • Posture check: Sitting unsupported with a straight spine, feet resting on the floor and elbows on the arm rests while working at the desk relieves the back muscles of unnecessary strain.
  • Go easy on those high heels
  • Watch your weight. Excessive weights creates unnecessary low back strain.
  • Holding the spine in one posture can create low back stifness. Changing postures and walking around every 30 minutes or so releases the stiffness.
  • Bending your knees instead of your back while lifting something heavy and holding it close to the body makes sure your back is safe and protected
  • Invest on a good mattress that is not too firm or sorft. Knowing that we spend more than 1/3rd of our life sleeping, a good mattress does matter.
  • Take out some time for exercise. 15 minutes of core strengthening or stretching are effective and lasting ways to make sure the pain never comes back.
  • Rest, but not more than 24-48 hours. Longer rest periods are detrimental to the back as they cause muscle deconditioning and increase stiffness.
  • Hot compresses help to ease the muscle spasm and provide pain relief with no side effects.
  • Pace your activities/ include breaks between activities. You don’t have to do everything at once.
  • Listen to your physio and learn the exercises correctly.

With every 4 in 5 person suffering from back pain at some point in their lives, remaining active & seeking help from a Chartered Physiotherapist or Chiropractor early can help prevent ongoing low back pain issues. Unfortunately, the answer may not lie in the medicine cabinet.

This blog is brought to you by Naas Physio Clinic. For more information contact the Physio Clinic on (045) 874682 or email us at info@physioclinic.ie