Low Back Pain Relief - What are the Different Types of Treatment for Back Pain

Everywhere you look there are claims about treatment for back pain, including all sorts of techniques or devices that claim to offer low back pain relief. How on earth do you start to figure out which lower back pain treatments really work and which don't?

To help you make some informed choices about what is available to help you with your back pain relief I will outline the different options and give a brief overview of the research evidence about it. 

If your pain is less than 6 weeks old this section is a bit of a first aid guide to managing acute pain


Treatment can be divided into two main types of care. Passive or hands on treatment is something that someone does to you like massage. Active treatments need you to do something yourself like exercise. The research generally favours active treatments as the best way to get better low back pain relief. This is linked to the biopsychosocial model of back care. Passive treatment have their place though, I just like to use them in combination with a more active approach as I believe that it helps you to feel more in control if you can do something for yourself and not need to rely on others to do it for you.

Passive or 'Hands on' Treatment for Low Back Pain

Originating in china acupuncture treatment for back pain relief inserts needles into the skin.
Similar in theory to acupuncture, acupressure involves applying pressure to specific acupuncture points, no needles though!
A western type of acupressure with a different theory. Trigger Point treatment also involves applying pressure but it does not follow acupuncture points (not intentionally anyway!)
New research shows that back massage has real value in patients with chronic lower back pain

Manipulation is a bread and butter treatment for many chiropractors and osteopaths, quite a few physiotherapists offer this too.

Spinal Mobilisation is something frequently practiced by physiotherapists. When I trained this was the mainstay of what we offered, times have changed now though and this is less popular.

Machines and physical treatments

TNS machine image


lumbar roll image

Active treatments

gym ball image

You will always meet someone with back pain who has benefited from something or another and swears by it, but bear in mind that because they have done well with a type of  treatment it doesn't mean that you will.  Read the evidence for and against, make up your own mind and try it if you think it may help. Whatever you do though don’t get too pulled into the advertising and hype for unproven treatments or for treatments which we know really don’t help –some of them are very expensive.

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Remember - there is no proven cure for non-specific lower back pain - if there was none of us would have it anymore!


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