Soft-tissue problems

Back pain can arise from soft tissues, including the muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Sprains and strains

The relationship of symptoms to some unusual physical activity will usually make the diagnosis obvious. Spontaneous resolution is usual and may be aided by the use of NSAIDs and soothing measures such as heat, ice packs or massage. Injection of tender areas with steroid-local anaesthetic combinations may also be of value.

Sacroiliac strain

This usually results from some physical activity and is particularly common in people whose occupation requires lifting, such as nurses. The pain radiates from the sacroiliac joint to the buttock and sometimes down the back of the thigh. It is a sudden acute problem that usually resolves within a few weeks with rest, avoidance of lifting and NSAIDs. Unfortunately, it has a great tendency to recur.


This is a soft-tissue problem in which pain arises from the region of the coccyx, often in anxious women. Reassurance and protection with a soft ring cushion are usually sufficient treatment since the condition is self-limiting.

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