Back pain is very common, with eight out of ten people getting it at some point in their life. It can be extremely painful, debilitating and upsetting. It may be a rare occurrence for some, but for others it can be a constant problem.

Fortunately, studies have shown that osteopathy is more effective than other approaches in reducing pain and improving physical function in acute and chronic non-specific lower back. And also with neck pain. (Bagagioli et al 2022)

Back pain is one the the most common things that people seek osteopathic treatment for. Symptoms can range from a sharp stabbing pain, a twinge or a constant ache in any part of the spine, for example the lower back or between the shoulder blades. Pain can refer into the buttock or down the leg. It might be made worse by sitting, bending, twisting or walking. People often find that they can’t sleep properly due to the pain. It’s no surprise that before long people with back pain are seeking a solution for it.

How can osteopathy help with back pain?

Initially we would take a case history and examine you to establish which structures in your back are most likely causing pain, and why. Treatment is initially aimed at getting as much relief as possible using hands on therapy. Using various techniques we aim to restore biomechanical balance to the spine and individual vertebrae, to reduce ligament strain and muscle spasm. We also like to take a longer term approach to help you maintain your back and reduce likelihood of further episodes. We do this with further osteopathic manual therapy and exercise prescription, usually to improve core stability. There is a variety of techniques that we use including joint manipulation, soft tissue release, cranial osteopathy and muscle energy techniques.

Joint manipulation – very commonly pain in the back is caused by inflamed ligaments of the joints in the spine as a result of muscle spasm. Using manipulation to these joints can be very effective at relieving spasm and reducing the strain on the joints.

Soft tissue release techniques – if you have had pain or a build up of muscular tension for a while, you may develop areas of chronic tension in certain muscles. These can take the form of trigger points or fibrosis in the muscles which can contribute to ongoing pain and stiffness. Osteopathic treatment can be used to treat these areas to help the muscles return to proper function.

MET – more gentle from of treatment working with the muscle contraction, that ca be used to lengthen muscles but also restore motion to vertebrae.

Cranial osteopathy – is a gentle from of treatment to help balance the body.

There are a variety of techniques at our disposal to help with back pain. Each individual will require a particular treatment approach depending on their needs which is determined by the osteopath during the examination and is always reassessed at each treatment.


Bagagiolo D, Rosa D, Borrelli F

Efficacy and safety of osteopathic manipulative treatment: an overview of systematic reviews

BMJ Open 2022;12:e053468. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-053468

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