Will my back pain go away?

One of the most common questions we get asked by patients with back pain is “will my back pain ever go away?”  Obviously, it does depend on a lot of things, but the fact is, that a huge majority of back pain will go away with time and the right…

Reading Time: 5 min.

Will my back pain go away?

One of the most common questions we get asked by patients with back pain is “will my back pain ever go away?”  Obviously, it does depend on a lot of things, but the fact is, that a huge majority of back pain will go away with time and the right treatment and activity.

More than any other type of pain, back pain makes you feel like it’s going to be there forever.  It can be so painful, so limiting and so consistently there, that it’s hard to imagine it will ever go away. 

On top of that, if you read the comments on any forum about back pain, or any post about it on social media, or talk to anyone, chances are they will either have a horror story themselves or, more likely, know someone who has.  The problem is, going online, or telling a friend “Oh yeah, I had back pain.  It’s fine now though” isn’t a story.  It’s not interesting, and so most people never hear that’s even an option. 

When you have back pain, what you’re feeling makes you think it will be there forever.  Everything you read, see and hear makes you believe it will be there forever.  And that’s why it’s the most common question we get.

I’ve had severe lower back pain myself in the past.  As a Physio for over 19 years, I’ve seen thousands of people with back pain recover completely.  But despite that.  Despite everything I know, I still had plenty of moments where I was convinced the pain would never go away.  Guess what though, it did.

Things that make it more likely your back won’t go away:

Avoiding movement because of fear it will damage things more

Once upon a time, the advice for back pain sufferers was to go to bed and not move. Unfortunately, whilst this may reduce the pain in the short term, problems come when people start to move again.  The pain nearly always comes back.  This is part of the issue with why so many people have horror stories.  Their Grandmother had back pain and she was in bed with it.  Their Dad had back pain and it never went away.  It’s often because they didn’t move.  If you don’t move, things get stiff and weak.  When you start to move again, that’s almost certainly going to result in pain. So, you need to keep moving as best you can.  Active rest is the way forwards.  Ie avoiding strenuous activity, but keeping pottering about.

Hoping it will just go away by itself

Everyone gets tweaks and twinges in their backs from time to time and they can be sore for a couple of days.  You don’t need to get help for those, although they are a sign that things aren’t quite right, and if you keep getting them, you should see someone to avoid a likely major episode of back pain. 

However, if your back pain has been there more than about a week and is limiting your day to day activity, chances are you need to get some good advice and treatment to firstly, get rid of it as quickly as possible, and secondly, to reduce the chances of it coming back.

Stress, negative beliefs and catastrophic thinking

There is a huge psychological aspect to all pain, but it seems particularly important in back pain.  I guarantee if you ask people about back pain, or do endless searches online, you will find almost entirely negative information.  It will add to your stress and make you believe the pain will never improve.  Unfortunately, negative beliefs around the pain make it less likely to go.  Pain is highly complex, but it is not a physical thing.  It is created in the brain, and is designed to keep you safe.  That means feeding your brain with negative information fuels the pain and so makes it more likely to continue. 

That’s why articles like this one are important. Hopefully, this was the first thing you stumbled across when you searched about your back pain. Hopefully, it will give you some confidence that back pain can go away. Having treated thousands of people with back pain now, I can genuinely say that a massive majority do improve.  It’s really unusual for it not to, if you get the right advice. 

Getting the wrong advice

It’s always hard to know where to turn or which professional to speak to in terms of back pain.  Firstly, if you’re looking for advice and help with your back pain, then seek out someone who has experience of assessing and treating it successfully.  For example, GPs don’t tend to see people with back pain improve.  If someone sees them, and they improve afterwards, the GP never finds that out because they never see them again.  Therefore, they often don’t have a very positive outlook on back pain.  Also, someone whose “done a bit of massage” but without any qualifications, is not a good source of advice and help.

Whether you choose a Physio, an Osteopath, a Chiropractor or a Sports Therapist will depend on personal preference and recommendations you have available to you.  Physios and Sports Therapists work very similarly and will usually use mobilisations and massage to reduce pain and regain movement before working with you to strengthen things to prevent further issues.  Osteopaths and Chiropractors will usually use higher amplitude movements and realignments, followed by some exercise to reduce your pain.  There are pros and cons to all, and largely it comes down to what you feel helps the most and the style of treatment you want.  But, it’s important you get realistic advice and treatment from someone who is qualified to give it.

So, try to keep moving, if it’s not going away, get good quality advice and treatment, and try to avoid unnecessary stress of negative information about your back pain, and you have a very very good chance the pain will go away.

I hope you’ve found this useful, even if it’s for no other reason than it’s giving you a glimmer of positivity and hope amongst the negativity you’ll generally hear.

If you have any questions about your back pain, then get in touch.

Good luck with your back!

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