The following link provides access to ACC's vast array of current literature on the topic of low back pain including:

  • The Management of Acute Low Back Pain
  • Manual Handling
  • Serious Back Injuries
  • Managing Acute Low Back Pain in the Workplace
  • Back Problems in New Zealand
  • Workplace Back Plans
  • Code of Safe Practice for Manual Handling


ACC recommend the following:

Here are some things you can do to help make yourself more comfortable while you're recovering from acute low back pain:

  • Wear comfortable shoes with low heels.
  • Use an upright chair with good low back support.
  • Avoid low or soft chairs.
  • If you have to sit for long periods try putting one foot on a low stool.
  • Make sure that your work surface is at a comfortable height.
  • If you have trouble sleeping, try using a firm mattress or put boards under the mattress.
  • If you sleep on your back, try putting a pillow under your knees. If you sleep on your side, put a pillow between your knees.

Things you should avoid

To assist your recovery, you should avoid the following:

  • Extended bed rest.
  • Limiting movement or activity because it may cause pain.
  • Worrying that the presence of back pain is going to be harmful or potentially disabling.
  • Staying off work until you are fully recovered - it's common to have minor recurrences, but being at work has a positive impact on your recovery.
  • Unnecessary investigation - unless your health provider thinks there may be something more seriously wrong with your back, or you need surgery, X-rays are pointless and may be potentially harmful.

Don't take back pain lying down

You should avoid bed rest, especially for more than a day - not using your back can do you more harm than good.

It's important to remember that pain in your back does not mean it has been damaged. Staying active and continuing your usual activities, within tolerable pain limits, helps recovery.

  • Most back pain gets better quickly - often within a month. Find out what you should do while you're getting better, and what to do if it happens again.
  • The best person to manage your low back pain is you. Find out why self management works best.
  • Using your back normally helps recovery.
  • Health professionals can provide further support if you are finding it difficult to self-manage your pain to the extent you cannot return to your usual activity level.

For more information, check out our resources for managing acute low back pain.


These recommendations apply to simple acute low back pain.

If you have recently experienced a serious back injury or have warning signs of a potentially serious disease, more specialised advice is required.

If your back pain is associated with numbness in the groin or anal area, or you have difficulty in walking or going to the toilet, you should seek urgent medical advice.

Our recommendations are based on a recent review of the latest international research and medical advice published in the New Zealand Acute Low Back Pain Guide - endorsed by the New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists, Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and New Zealand Register of Osteopaths

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