Back pain commonly occurs in the lower back and can be the result of an injury such as a sprain or strain.

It often occurs for no apparent reason, but in rare circumstances it can indicate a more serious health condition and requires urgent medical attention.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) says there are symptoms which could point to a more serious underlying condition.

It said: “These symptoms are very rare but you should contact a doctor if you experience any of them.”

These symptoms include feeling unwell with your back pain such as a fever or significant sweating that wakes you from sleep.

Another is difficult passing urine or having thew sensation to pass water that is not there.

Also watch out for back pain along with impaired sexual function such as loss of sensation during intercourse.

Back pain with numbness or tingling in your genitals or buttocks area , loss of bladder or bowel control, and loss of power in your legs can also indicate something more serious.

NHS Choices said: “Very rarely, back pain can be a sign of a serious problem such as a broken bone in the spine, an infection, cauda equina syndrome (where the nerves in the lower back become severely compressed) or cancer.”

Medical conditions which can cause back pain include a slipped disc – which can cause back pain and numbness and tingling, sciatica – which can cause pain, numbness tingling and weakness in the lower back, legs and feet and ankylosing spondylitis – a swelling of the joints in the spine.

Experts say people with back pain should try to stay in work and resume normal activities.

The CSP said: “Avoid bedrest, stay in work and gradually resume normal activities.

“Scientific studies now indicate prolonged rest and avoidance of activity for people with low back pain actually leads to higher levels of pain, greater disability, poorer recovery and longer absence from work.

“In the first few days of a new episode of low back pain, avoiding aggravating activities may help to relieve pain.

“However, staying as active as possible and returning to all usual activities gradually is actually important in aiding recovery – this includes staying in work where possible.”

Painkillers are a popular choice for relief, but for those looking for a more natural remedy, one of the best exercises to alleviate pain is swimming.

A relatively simple activity everyone can do to ease flare ups is swimming, according to Nathanael Bogedain, doctor of Chiropractic Care at ProBack.

Why does plunging into the water provide an instant sense of relief, and why is it recommended for back pain patients?

Dr Bogedain said: “It simply comes down to the fact that movement is good for back pain and that water, thanks to its buoyancy and weightlessness, allows you to perform light resistance and cardiovascular training with very little impact on the spine.”


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