Who should I see for Low Back Pain?
Updated: Nov 11, 2019
Written by: Vincent Chou
About low back pain
Low back pain is increasingly common in today's society and is the world’s
leading cause of pain and disability. It is so common that during one’s
lifetime you will experience at least one episode of low back pain. You
may experience low back pain as a feeling of pain, stiffness, soreness or
discomfort in the lower back region and sometimes with accompanying
numbness or pain in the lower limbs.
An acute episode of low back pain can last anywhere up to 6 weeks and
may not fully recover and become a chronic ongoing issue. Therefore, it is
best to visit a practitioner to assess and address this issue immediately.
Who do I see to get relief?
You have some options:
● Doctor (GP)
● Massage Therapist
The above options are the most popular forms of treatment for low back
pain and are all suitable for treating low back pain. There are also other
alternative types of health care not listed above.
This article will briefly explain what each profession does so you can make
the best informed decision as to which profession is best suited for your
A GP is a good place to start for any kind of medical condition, they are
trained to assess and evaluate the situation and to determine the severity
of your condition. Depending on the severity of your condition they may
refer you for imaging or they may prescribe you medication and provide
self-help tips for managing the pain. They can also refer you to
practitioners that specialise in musculoskeletal conditions for further
treatment and management of low back
Chiropractors are trained in musculoskeletal conditions and are commonly
associated with treating low back pain. You do not need a GP referral to
see a chiropractor so you can arrange an appointment directly.
Chiropractors will assess, exam and diagnose your condition and then
treat accordingly. They are able to treat the symptoms of your pain as
well as the root cause of your complaint and get you out of pain faster
and reduce the chance of it returning. Chiropractic care commonly
involves manual therapy (adjustments), soft tissue work, posture advice
A physiotherapist is also trained in musculoskeletal conditions. They are
similar to chiropractors, however they place more of an emphasis on
using exercises to treat the components of a low back complaint.
Physiotherapists are commonly associated with post-surgical rehabilitation
that uses exercises to retrain and strengthen the body. Physiotherapy
treatment often involves manual therapy (mobilisations), soft tissue work,
electrotherapy and exercises.
A massage therapist can also help alleviate the pain from your low back,
however they are not trained to assess and diagnose conditions. They
solely work on relaxing the muscles in your back for temporary pain relief.
They are not trained to identify and treat the causes of low back pain, but
rather to manage the superficial symptoms.