Procedure & Treatment Library

Chronic Back Pain (CBP)

1 in 6 Australians have back problems and these problems can become a chronic condition.

Chronic back pain (CBP) is pain that continues more than 12 weeks or longer, even after an initial injury or underlying cause of acute back pain has been treated.

There are many causes of chronic back pain, usually related to the way bones, discs, tendons, muscles and ligaments interact. CBP can usually be associated with a fall, injury or other medical condition.


For some patients, back pain including LBP will settle down, but for other patients, it will continue and become a chronic issue. Current statistics indicate that 1 in 10 people will have pain that will continue.

Back pain, particularly Lower Back Pain (LBP) is the leading cause of disability worldwide and considered one of the most common reasons for people of working age to drop out of the workforce. Furthermore, 4 out of 5 people experience it at some time in their lives.

Chronic Back Pain


Diagnosing the cause of CBP will involve a complete assessment and thorough examination.

The examination will include the back itself, your ability to sit, stand, walk and lift your legs. Assessment will include a numerical rating of pain along with recognised pain assessment tools/questionnaires that are used to give an overall picture of your pain and how it impacts your life as a whole.

In some cases, imaging tests are not needed but in other may be recommended to rule out specific causes of pain including spinal stenosis, disc issues, and inflamed joints, identify nerve pressure areas etc. Occasionally, the cause of CBP is difficult to determine.


CBP is most often treated with a stepped care approach. This involves moving from simple, less invasive treatments, to more aggressive treatments. As always, treatment will depend on your presenting symptoms and will be based on the assessment and physical examination.

Treatment should be multi-modal to ensure a personalised pain management plans is implemented and may include the following management options:

It is important to note that chronic back pain affects people in different ways and one person’s response to treatment will be different from another person’s. Your pain specialist will work out a plan on how best to treat you and your symptoms.

**This information sheet has been written for patients affected by chronic back pain and provides general information only**


Pain Australia; Arthritis Australia

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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