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Conquering back pain

Backs can ‘go’ at any moment and, while it can be incredibly painful, reaching for the pill packet isn’t always the best solution. Physiotherapist Jason Lee takes the time to answer Julian’s question on the subject.



Hi, Jason. I just read your article on codeine use. I occasionally suffer from lower back. I’m not sure why this manifests, but using NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) has been a last resort for me. I know that codeine is used for migraines, but I rarely get backaches now so abuse is not an issue.

I’ve had acupuncture and it seems to temporarily relieve my lower back pain until the next episode. The first time this back problem erupted, I was merely bending down to tie a shoelace, with my foot raised on a chair.

I find lying on my back is worse than being on my feet, which seems to ease the pain. A friend has advised me that it may be time to get X-rays and/or scans. Can you help?

A: Thank you for taking the time to read my article on codeine use. Great to hear that you have identified several strategies to address and temporarily relieve pain. Recurrent episodes of low back pain can be common and debilitating. General and strengthening exercises have been shown to be some of the most effective mechanisms of reducing episodes


In relation to X-rays and scans, imaging in conjunction with a thorough physical assessment can provide useful information. Interestingly, research has indicated that a number of reported findings on imaging can be considered normal. For example, research has suggested that 80 per cent of 50-year-olds who have had CTs or MRI of the spine were identified with ‘disc degeneration’, while 60 per cent of 50-year-olds were diagnosed as having ‘disc bulging’.

Importantly, when this information is carefully considered in conjunction with a thorough physical assessment, it can assist in developing a comprehensive treatment plan. 

Jason Lee is a physiotherapist. He is happy to answer any questions you may have. Simply send an email to newsletters@yourlifechoices.com.au.

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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your health professional.


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