Overview

Back pain that develops suddenly can be disabling at first, but will usually ease over time.

What to do

If you've developed back pain, or back and leg pain, in the last 48 hours:

  • take painkillers - this can help your pain and help you move
  • apply heat or cold - this can also help your pain
  • keep active - try and keep moving, even if you have to go carefully at first
  • do some back exercises - working out any tension, or stiffness, in your back can help you to keep active

You should also follow this advice if you back pain has got worse.

When to see your GP

You should speak to your GP as soon as possible if you have back pain and:  

  • find it difficult to pass or control urine
  • feel numbness or altered sensation around your back passage or genitals - such as wiping after the toilet
  • have pins and needles around your back passage or genitals - such as wiping after the toilet  

If your GP surgery is closed, phone 111.

Sitting and standing

If you have back pain, you may find it difficult to get out of bed or get up from a chair or the floor. There are some simple techniques you can use to make this easier and more comfortable.

If you've tried these techniques but still find it too painful or difficult to get off the floor, speak to your GP. If your GP surgery is closed, phone 111.

 

Getting off the floor

Acute back pain can sometimes be so sudden and severe that you end up on the floor and in too much pain to move. If this happens, there are techniques you can use to get back on your feet safely and in relative comfort.

How to get up from the floor

To get up safely from lying face down:

  1. Bend your stronger knee and slowly raise it and your upper body to a crawling position
  2. Move towards a chair that can be used for support
  3. Pause for breath
  4. Support yourself on the chair with your arms
  5. Move your stronger leg forward from a kneeling position
  6. Lean forward and use the chair to support you as you straighten both legs, starting with the strongest

Getting out of a chair

Acute back pain can make using chairs especially painful and difficult. There are, however, techniques you can use to make getting in and out of chairs easier and less painful.

How to sit on a chair

To sit on a chair safely:

  1. Feel the chair at the back of your legs
  2. Brace your tummy muscles 
  3. Use the arms of the chair to help you stand down
  4. If the chair has no arms, push on your thighs for a bit of extra support

To help your back and make sitting more comfortable:

  • Try to get up and change position regularly 
  • Try to sit right back in the chair
  • Put a rolled up towel in the small curve at the bottom of your spine

How to get out of a chair

To get out of a chair safely:

  1. Ease yourself forward to the edge of the chair
  2. Brace your tummy muscles
  3. Use the arms of the chair to help you stand up
  4. If the chair has no arms, push on your thighs for a bit of extra support

Getting in and out of bed

Acute back pain can make getting in and out of bed difficult. It's common for people to get stuck in bed, which can do more harm than good. There are, however, techniques you can use to make getting in and out of bed easier and less painful.

How to get out of bed

To get out of bed safely:

  1. Roll onto your tummy and edge yourself towards the edge of the bed
  2. Let the leg nearest the edge drop towards the floor and start to push up with your hands
  3. Walk your hands down the bed towards your hips and raise yourself up
  4. Carefully bring your other leg towards the floor and stand up

Alternatively:

  1. Roll onto the side you feel most comfortable
  2. Support your body with the arm closest to the bed and  use your other arm to slowly start to raise yourself up
  3. Carefully bring your other leg towards the floor and stand up

How to get into bed

To get into bed safely:

  1. Feel the bed at the back of your legs
  2. Brace your tummy muscles
  3. Sit down slowly pushing your thighs for a bit of extra support
  4. Support your body with the arm closest to the top of the bed and use your other arm to slowly lower yourself down
  5. Roll onto the side you feel most comfortable

Also on NHS inform