back pain_shutterstock_202849831

Back pain


Understanding and better treating back pain


Back pain is very common and can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that makes it hard to move. Back pain can start quickly if you fall or lift something too heavy and for others or it can get worse slowly. Unfortunately the longer someone has back pain the more difficult it is to treat successfully and many do not fully recovery. Treatments usually involve some form of regular exercise, it doesn’t seem to matter which type of exercise or whether it is done at the gym or at home. Preventing people from developing long-term low back pain can be a more effective approach than trying to treat it once they have.Luckily most episodes of back pain get better quickly. Keeping active usually speeds up recovery.

Low back pain (LBP) is very common and the leading cause of disability worldwide. Not everyone who gets LBP will develop chronic LBP (more than 3 months’ duration), in fact, most do not. Although 60% of people who have LBP recover in a few weeks, and often with minimal intervention, for the other 40%, recovery is slow and the risk of long-term symptoms, or chronic LBP, is high. These people face a downward spiral of increasingly lengthy periods of pain and disability with substantial social and personal disadvantage.

About Our Research

Our research is directed towards first understanding why some people with a low back pain don’t recover and develop longer term, or chronic, low back pain. We are developing and testing new interventions and approaches to both prevent people from developing chronic pain and to help those that already have. We are proposing that, rather than waiting to treat patients who already have chronic low back pain, much better outcomes are likely to be achieved if we intervene early to reduce the risk of developing chronic low back pain after an acute episode.


SLEEPain clinical trial

In this randomised controlled trial we are investigating whether a simple sleep intervention can not only improve sleep quality of patients with acute low back pain but also lead to reduced pain and disability.

RESOLVE clinical trial

Our NHMRC funded randomised controlled trial for chronic low back pain focuses on normalising sensation from the back.

PREVENT clinical trial

This NHMRC funded randomised controlled study aims to prevent people with acute low back pain developing chronic low back pain using an optimised pain education approach. In this intervention a specially trained pain clinician provides two one-hour consultations with a patient with acute low back pain to discuss their condition.

What else is happening in Back pain research at NeuRA?