How long can back pain last?

Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missing work, equating to 31 million lost working days per year. To put this into context, around half of us will suffer from chronic pain at some stage in our lives, and seeking treatment for back issues in a timely manner can, and does, have an overarching impact on recovery.

For those who have back pain for two years or more, there’s a 50% chance they’ll still be off work the same time next year.  With that in mind, how long does back pain typically last and what the clear warning signs are that it needs to be treated?

How long can back pain last?

Statistics reveal that as many as 90% of people who’ve suffered an acute episode of back pain will recover of their own accord within between 4 and 1 weeks. However, it’s important to note that 70 to 80% of these people will go on to have a further episode within a year.

Not helping this situation is the fact that the majority of back pain is none specific (this covers 95% of all cases), and whilst relief may be felt in the short term, the longer term could be defined by stronger pain and a more serious condition.

You can help back pain get better on your own by:

When does back pain need to be treated?

The following symptoms are clear red flags – if you experience one or more of these warning signs you should book an appointment with us or your GP as soon as possible:

  • Your pain is constant or especially intense, particularly if it occurs at night or worsens whenever you lie down
  • The pain spreads downwards to one or both of your legs, especially if this pain is felt below the knee
  • The condition is making your feel weak or numb in one or both legs
  • You’ve lost weight
  • You have a swollen or red back

Back pain can be debilitating, and sadly it’s all too common. We treat people suffering with back pain almost every day. You don’t need to suffer in silence. We can diagnose what is causing the pain, and how to make it better.  Call us on 020 8316 5316 to see one of our Osteopaths.

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