When should you see a chiropractor for back pain?

Almost everyone has suffered from back pain at one point in their lives. For some people, the pain can subside after a few days taking it easy, but for others, the pain can persist for weeks, months and even years.

If you’re struggling to cope with your back pain or it’s interfering with your everyday activities, perhaps it’s time to get it looked at by a chiropractor.

What is back pain?

Back pain is one of the most common conditions people experience in Australia and it’s the reason many workers take sick days. In fact, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, one in six people suffer from chronic back pain every year.

If you have back pain, you’re likely to be feeling stiff, achy or tension in your back. It could be caused by simply bending down in the wrong direction, lifting something heavy, an accident or a sporting injury. Back pain can occur at any age but is most common among young and middle-aged adults.

When should I see a chiropractor for back pain?

If you are concerned about your back, struggling to manage the level of pain, or it has persisted for over six weeks it’s worth seeking the advice of a health provider. Chiropractors are highly skilled to effectively manage and treat back pain through spinal manipulation and mobilisation of the surrounding muscles and joints.

You should contact a chiropractor (or GP) if you experience any of the following symptoms for longer than a week:

  • Constant or intense pain, especially when you are lying down or at night
  • Pain radiating down one or both of your legs
  • Weakness, tingling or numbness in one or both of your legs
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Redness or swelling in the region of your pain

It is recommended you seek emergency treatment or call 000 if you experience:

  • Back pain after a serious car accident, fall or major sports injury
  • Bowel or bladder control issues that weren’t pre-existing
  • A temperature

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What can you expect at your first chiropractic appointment?

At your first chiropractic appointment, you can expect your practitioner will take an in-depth history of your back pain as well as a general medical history. You’ll be asked when you first experienced the pain, where it’s located and the type of pain you are feeling. You’ll also be asked about what helps relieve the pain and any treatments you’ve tried in the past.

The chiropractor will conduct a thorough physical exam which may include tests such as blood pressure, respiration and pulse. You may undergo several orthopaedic or neurological tests to determine your range of movement, posture, and your muscle strength and tone.

While uncommon, you may be required to have an X-ray or MRI scan to accurately diagnose your condition and rule out any structural abnormalities.

Once your chiropractor has evaluated your condition, you’ll be provided with a treatment plan with goals and recommendations to improve your back pain. This may include adjustments of joints, soft tissue healing, strengthening exercises, stretches and massage. Your chiropractor may begin this treatment through manipulation and adjustments at your first appointment.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or have been enduring persistent back pain for over 6 weeks, it’s time to make an appointment with a chiropractor or your chosen health practitioner.

What are some causes of acute back pain?

Acute back pain can often result from accidents such as impact injuries during sports or car accidents. These high force events may cause vertebral joints to be dislodged, causing aching stiffness. On the other hand, herniated discs can pinch sensitive nerve tissue, which leads to lower back pain and sciatic pain down the leg.

What diseases or conditions can cause back pain, which is often chronic?

Conditions like scoliosis (mild or high curvature of the spine), spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal column), endometriosis, kidney stones, and various forms of arthritis can all cause back pain. These need management with the help of trained professionals to maintain a level of normal life routine despite the issue.

Next steps

HealthEngine can help you find and book an appointment with your regular chrio or another experienced professional at a practice near you.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine always recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.


A: Use HealthEngine to find and book your next Chiropractor appointment. Click on the following locations to find a Chiropractor clinic in your state or territory.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.

All content and media on the HealthEngine Blog is created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. Never disregard the advice of a medical professional, or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the nearest hospital emergency department, or call the emergency services immediately.