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eMed previously Babylon Health

Mechanical Back Pain

Edited by Dr Claudia Pastides, 5th April 2019

Mechanical low back pain is the most common cause of work-related disability in people aged under 45.

Causes and risk factors

  • Older age
  • Being overweight
  • Injury to the back
  • Lifting heavy objects with improper technique
  • Repeated bending or twisting of the back
  • Smoking
  • Chronic inflammatory joint disease
  • Anxiety or depression

Typical Symptoms

  • Low back pain, worse with movement
  • Muscle spasm
  • Pain radiating into the legs

Common Treatment

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Over the counter or prescribed pain relievers
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Specialist treatment or surgery

When to speak to a doctor

Back pain can often be initially managed via a digital consultation. If the GP decides you need a face to face appointment, they will discuss what steps you can take next. To speak to one of our Babylon GPs, download the app and create an account today.

It is important to speak urgently to a doctor if you are experiencing:

  • Weakness in your legs
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Sensory changes in the genitals/the area of your bottom and perineum that you sit on
  • A fever


Mechanical back pain can be managed and prevented by:

  • Using a proper technique when lifting heavy objects
  • Regular exercise
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Smoking cessation

More information


The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.