Review Articles

An overview of the management of back pain

N. Padayachee, M. Lundie, N. Shellack
South African Family Practice | Vol 60, No 4 : July/August| a4897 | DOI: | © 2019 N. Padayachee, M. Lundie, N. Shellack | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 October 2019 | Published: 28 August 2018

About the author(s)

N. Padayachee, University of Witwatersrand; School of Therapeutic Sciences, South Africa
M. Lundie, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, South Africa
N. Shellack, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, South Africa

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Back pain affects people across any socio-economic category and is a leading cause of absenteeism and decreased productivity in the workplace. This symptomatic condition is caused by multiple factors, making it difficult to manage. With a small proportion of people experiencing back pain due to pathological reasons, in the larger majority, back pain is due to a mechanical cause. Taking a complete history that includes identifying risk factors such as depression, poor posture, lack of exercise, older age and a physically demanding job is crucial to the effective management of the condition. Behavioural, psychological and social factors of the patient should form the backbone for treatment of back pain. Non-pharmacological management such as exercise, spinal manipulation and acupuncture should be the first-line treatment; however, if this provides poor results then pharmacological measures such as the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen or muscle relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine should be considered.


back pain; narcotics; non-narcotics; NSAIDs


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