Back pain: Management

Woman holding back

Managing back pain

Back pain frequently resolves within a few weeks or months.1,2

However, sometimes the pain can persist over the long term, or keep recurring.1

Here we review physiotherapeutic and pharmacological treatment options to help your patients manage their back pain.2–4

Guideline recommendations for treating back pain

Graphic summarising treatment pathway for back pain

Guidance on managing back pain recommends multimodal intervention

Recommendations from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the American College of Physicians are available guiding the pharmacological and non-pharmacological management of lower back pain.2–4

This advice covers several modes of intervention:

  • Exercise
  • Pharmacological treatments
  • Manual therapy
  • Physical and/or psychological therapy
  • Exercise

    Resting for long periods can make back pain worse.1

    Certain forms of exercise can relieve pain and improve function as part of a multidisciplinary rehabilitation approach.3

    Walking, swimming, yoga and pilates are activities that may be particularly helpful for back pain.1

    Specific exercises and stretches are also available for relieving back pain.1

  • Pharmacological treatments

    Guidelines recommend that oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are considered for managing lower back pain.4

    Weak opioids with or without paracetamol may be considered for acute lower back pain but only if NSAIDs are contraindicated, not tolerated or ineffective.4

  • Manual / physical therapy

    Manual therapies, which involve massage and manipulating the spine, can be considered as part of a treatment package that also includes exercise.1,2,4

    Manual therapy can be provided by physiotherapists, chiropractors or osteopaths.

  • Heat

    Several guideline bodies recommend application of low-level superficial heat for back pain relief.1,3,5,6

    Indeed, superficial heat is the only non-pharmacological treatment for lower back pain that is rated as having a good evidence of efficacy.5,6

    Find out more

  • Psychological therapy

    Psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy can be helpful for coping with the pain, as part of a treatment approach that also includes manual therapy and exercise.1,4

How can Laura and Riya be helped?

Woman with child


Laura has recently hurt her back and cannot do as much with her family as she used to. She is having difficulty bending, twisting and reaching.

Laura needs a solution that offers powerful relief from back pain.

Voltarol Back and Muscle Pain Relief 1.16% Gel is scientifically proven to help relieve pain, reduce inflammation and restore movement.

Find out more



Riya has been experiencing aches and twinges in her back. She is on medications for a couple of chronic conditions and is reluctant to take any more tablets.

Riya needs a non-medicated solution that offers effective pain relief and aids recovery from back pain.

Voltarol Heat Patch provides continuous low-level heat, relieving pain so Riya can stay on her feet.

Find out more

Understanding back pain

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Find out about the causes of back and neck pain.

Find out more

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Signs and symptoms

Explore an overview of how to recognise back and pain and know when to refer patients.

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Overview of sprains and strains

Find out about how prevalent sprains and strains are, and meet two patients with these problems.

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Voltarol Back & Muscle Pain Relief 1.16% Gel Diclofenac Diethylammonium

Voltarol Back & Muscle Pain Relief 1.16% Gel Diclofenac Diethylammonium for back pain

Scientifically proven to help relieve pain, reduce inflammation and help restore movement.

Learn more & PI

Voltarol Heat Patch

Voltarol Heat Patch – for non-medicated relief of back pain

Deep-penetrating and long-lasting relief using continuous low-level heat therapy.7–11*

*40°C for 8 hours per day for at least 2 days.

Learn more

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Patient care resources

Access patient care resources.

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