Developed by

Back Pains

By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

Weak muscles and bad working position are the most common causes of back pains. You can often take care of back pains with medication bought over the counter and exercises. It is almost always best to go to work even though your back hurts. It is of no use to lie down in bed and wait for it to pass. It will not pass, if you only lie still.

The term back pains cover pain, soreness, stiffness or discomfort in the back. The illness has many different names, pain in the back, lumbago, sciatica, muscle knots and osteoarthritis in the back.

It is a common illness. Most frequently, the illness is seen with women in the working age.

There are many different causes for you to have back pains. Hereditary conditions have significance, since back pains are often seen in certain families. Your workplace is of great significance. Hard physical labour with heavy lifting, repeated contortions, whole-body vibrations and stationary work for a longer period can all lead to back pains. You physical condition is also of great significance. Obesity and weak muscles can cause back pains. It is often a combination of several conditions that causes back pains, for example will an obese person with weak abdominal and back muscles and a work that involves many heavy lifts highly likely have back pains.

Most cases of back pains disappear by themselves in the course of a few days. In the first case of back pain, an improvement of 50% within 3 weeks and 90% within 12 weeks is seen, no matter what you do. It is not dangerous to have back pains and labour is only damaging in few cases.

A slipped disc arises when an intervertebral disc in your spin displaces and presses the nerves that run through your leg. Therefore, you will experience more pain in your leg than in your back, if you have a slipped disc. This separates a slipped disc from ordinary back pains. Often, the pains in your leg worsen when you sneeze or cough. The pains caused by a slipped disc are described as radiating down into one of the legs. Disturbances with feeling and reduced strength in the leg many occur. This is the case when you have difficulty rising from a squatting position to a standing position, or if you have trouble walking on the toes or the heels.

In the first 4 weeks, a slipped disc is treated in the same manner as regular back pains. only after 4 to 6 weeks ineffective treatment, surgery possible becomes an option.

Click here to assess the sick.


Is not contagious.

When can I go to work?
It is almost always best to go to work, even though you have back pains. Reporting sick for a long period of time do not improve the situation and increases the risk of never returning to your work again.


Ordinary painkilling medication, e.g. aspirin or paracetamol is recommended. If this is not enough you can take ibuprofen together with paracetamol. Both ibuprofen and paracetamol can be bought over the counter. However, if you previously have had stomach ulcer, you should speak to your doctor first before taking any other medication than paracetamol.

What can you do?

One of the biggest mistakes of the field of back pain has been earlier times’ strict recommendation to stay in bed. This is the worst thing you can do. The best thing you can do is to take painkilling medication to get going again. In most cases, the medication takes enough of the pain for you to do exercises. In the first few days, you should avoid twists and heavy lifting. If you still have back pains after 2 to 3 days, in spite of the treatment mentioned, you can go see a chiropractor or have your doctor refer you to a physiotherapist. When you have recovered from your incident of back pains, it is important to make an effort to prevent new incidents. Two things are important for avoiding another incident of back pains. First of all, you should exercise the muscles of back and stomach. Second, you should arrange your workplace in such a manner not to strain your back. Avoid twists, whole-body vibrations, heavy lifting and stationary work of longer duration.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

If you still have back pains after 1 week, in spite of your own treatment. If you have more pain in your leg than your back. If you have disturbances in feeling or paralyses in your leg. If the medication bought over the counter is ineffective.

Contact the doctor immediately

If there is suspicion whether you have a slipped disc and suddenly cannot hold your urine or stool.