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Why does my back hurt?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

Back pain is a common condition that many of us experience. 

Most often, back pain is felt in the lower back, known as the lumbar spine. It’s easiest to think of this area as the space between the bottom of your ribcage, and the top of your legs.

Why does my lower back hurt?

If you’re suffering from back pain, you may notice some of the following symptoms:

  • Dull, aching sensation in the back
  • Sharp or shooting pain that may radiate down the legs
  • Stiffness and difficulty moving
  • Muscle spasms in the back
  • Limited range of motion


These symptoms can vary in severity, and are usually caused by:

  • Muscle strain or sprain from lifting heavy objects incorrectly
  • Poor posture, such as slouching while sitting or standing
  • Degenerative conditions like arthritis or disc degeneration
  • Herniated or bulging discs putting pressure on nerves
  • Spinal abnormalities like scoliosis or kyphosis

Frequently asked questions about back pain

What are the most common causes of lower back pain?

Common causes of lower back pain include muscle strain, poor posture, herniated discs, spinal arthritis, and spinal abnormalities.

How can I relieve back pain at home?

To relieve back pain at home, try gentle stretching, hot or cold therapy, low strength painkillers, maintaining good posture, and using ergonomic furniture and accessories.

When should I see a doctor for back pain?

You should speak to your pharmacist for back pain if it’s severe, lasts more than a few weeks, is accompanied by numbness or weakness in your legs, or follows a fall or injury.

A man in his 60s holds his lower back in pain while being supported by a woman of a similar age.

Do you have backache?

Don’t wait for a GP appointment.

Get advice & prescriptions from a trusted pharmacy now:
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What is Pharmacy First?

Pharmacy First is a new NHS-funded scheme that helps you quickly get the advice & treatment you need from a pharmacy, without needing to see a GP.

The conditions covered by Pharmacy First are:

Video consultations & advice are free of charge. If you pay for prescriptions you will be charged the prescription rate of £9.65 per prescription item.