I am 31 and work as a secondary school teacher. I have very bad pain at the bottom of my back which came on after pulling down a shed in my garden a few days ago. It is worse if I bend and if I cough and gets worse as the day goes on. My doctor says I have mechanical back pain and gave me some tablets, but won’t arrange an X-ray. I am worried that I don’t know what’s going on and feel I should have an X-ray. Shouldn’t the doctor get one done?


The doctor has seen you and assessed you. It does sound as though you are likely to have non-specific or mechanical back pain. As long as you have no red flags then it is unlikely that an X-Ray is necessary. Every X-ray exposes you to radiation, which brings its own hazards, and a plain X-Ray is very unlikely to help in this condition, which usually gets better in a few days to a few weeks.

Your doctor is following exactly the advice of the experts, and staying active, taking simple paracetamol or ibuprofen, you should find that you improve soon. If your symptoms change or worsen, or are not settling, you should consult your doctor again.