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First Aid for Sudden Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common injuries we see in the clinic. Almost 90% of people in New Zealand will experience an episode of back pain in their lifetime.

Why we happen to experience back pain is complicated and multifactorial. It could be due to your age, your previous injuries, inexperience of the activity, overtraining, poor recovery and physical or mental fatigue. And sometimes things just happen!

When you do experience back pain, it is important to know some first aid tips to support your recovery and set you on the right track for success.

So what can you do to help relieve sudden back pain?

Firstly, it is important to note that a majority of back pain will resolve within a 6 week period and that your pain does not necessarily mean there is bone or soft tissue damage. Rarely, is back pain a serious issue.


  1. Maintain a stiff and neutral spine position for 3-5 days (depending on your pain levels)

  2. Identify and avoid the painful movement for 1-2 weeks

  3. Use heat packs or massage to help reduce muscle spasm and pain

  4. Take medications such as anti-inflammatories or painkillers for a short period

  5. Keep moving and stay active - Walking or swimming are great options

  6. Stay positive! This is not forever.

There are also some other symptoms that may occur with or without back pain. These symptoms include:

  • Sharp band of pain down the bottom, thigh or leg

  • Numbness, pins and needles or tingling in the bottom, thigh, and/or leg

  • Weakness at the hip, knee or foot

If you do experience any of these symptoms, please seek advice from one of our physio's or a general practitioner as these symptoms may indicate that more assessment is required.

Once your pain has subsided, it's time to get back in action! Your physio will be able to guide you through a thorough program to improve overall core strength and function, and will identify and retrain your movement patterns to reduce the risk of recurrence.

If you are experiencing back pain or would like to know more about how to approach back pain rehab, feel free to contact us today!

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