Alternative solutions to back pain

Physiotherapist Jason Lee takes the time to answer Julian’s question on back pain.

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 [email protected]


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


    To make a comment, please register or login
    18th Oct 2018
    Sorry but I found this article pretty close to useless. Physio may work for some people but in severe cases I would suggest treatment by a reputable pain clinic is the only option . 12 yrs of struggling with chronic pain has taught me some valuable lessons when it comes to getting off the treatment merry go round offered by some ‘ I know best ‘ physiotherapists . But they all get one thing right .... keep moving
    18th Oct 2018
    Thanks Tikitik. I wrote this quite some time ago for advice. It's always good to get opinions and advice from the readers.
    18th Oct 2018
    Even when disk degeneration is seen on the MRI, it is very difficult to see a bunch of nerves under pressure and figure out what action to take.

    If the pain is continuous, then continuous pain killers may be prescribed but there is always exercise and diet and a heap of other things to do as well.

    Walking is probably the best exercise. If somebody saw me walking the first 20 metres in the morning they would say "go back to bed before you fall over" but I am fortunate to have that kind of pain, that will let go of the body stiffness after half hour movement. Walking also sends a lot of messages into the brain to crowd out the pain signals.

    It starts to get real complicated when they tell you about (small blood vessel disease) in the brain, that is irritating nerves and causing pain signals from other parts of the body to be amplified. This sometimes happens with nerve pain when there are sensations of burning hot, burning cold, pins and needles etc.

    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles

    You May Like