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Managing Acute and Chronic Lower Back Pain...What are the Guidelines

I recently attended a panel discussion for Osteopaths and a question was raised as to how we would stay on top of new guidelines, especially as they are forever changing. So I thought I’d start my first ever blog with what the recent guidelines say about managing Acute and Chronic lower back pain.

As Osteopaths we will follow what’s called the Diagnostic Triage (Box 1) for managing Lower back Pain. If during the questioning and examination process we think there is a serious disease or process happening then we will refer you to your GP for further investigations.   In saying that, it is very uncommon for a serious disease process to present as acute lower back pain and accounts for approximately 1% of cases[1].  If there are no red flags and you are in good general health then management of your lower back pain should be kept simple.

For acute lower back pain then appropriate advice, given by either your primary health care practitioner, and simple analgesics such as Panadol will usually help to resolve your issue within 2 weeks. As Osteopaths we would not routinely send you for an x-ray as findings don’t usually correlate well with symptoms of back pain.

Treatment using spinal manipulative therapies such as Osteopathy can aid in the recovery of your lower back pain.  This is especially true if simple analgesics have not worked and your pain is persistent and non-specific.  Osteopaths can also provide you with exercises to help in your recovery and can work closely with your GP in managing your pain.

In saying all that, prevention is better than cure, so following a few simple tips may be beneficial…

  • be physically active
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • enjoy life and work
  • use your back wisely.


If you are experiencing back pain and would like to speak to one of our experienced Osteopaths at the clinic, then please do not hesitate to call us on 8360 8363.


Box 1


[1] Henschke N, Maher CG, Refshauge KM, Herbert RD, Cumming RG, Bleasel J, et al. Prevalence of and screening for serious spinal pathology in patients presenting to primary care with acute low back pain. Arthritis Rheum 2009;60:3072-80.




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