This guideline covers the early treatment and management of persistent or recurrent non-specific low back pain that has lasted for more than 6 weeks but for less than 12 months in people aged 18 and over. It aims to help healthcare professionals and people with low back pain manage the condition to reduce the pain and its impact on the person’s day-to-day life, even if the pain cannot be cured completely. 


This guideline includes recommendations on:

Who is it for?

  • Healthcare professionals
  • People with non-specific low back pain, their families and carers 

Is this guideline up to date?

We reviewed the evidence in July 2012 and we are updating this guideline. See the guideline in development page for progress on the update. 

Guideline development process

How we develop NICE guidelines

This guideline was previously called low back pain: early management of persistent non-specific low back pain.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

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