Back Pain Treatment in Singapore

Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

Written by Dr James Tan


    Your back plays a crucial role in your daily life. With its complex network of muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels, and vertebrae, there are several moving parts that provide structure and support to the body. And that is one of the reasons why understanding and treating back pain can be so tricky.

    Read along further to find out about the symptoms and causes of back pain, its diagnosis, and back pain treatment options in Singapore.

    Understanding Back Anatomy

    Before delving into the various lower back pain treatment options, it is important to understand the anatomy of your back. Your back comprises the spine, which is made up of 33 vertebrae stacked upon each other, along with discs in between each vertebra that act as shock absorbers. Your spine gives your body flexibility and movement while helping to maintain stability and functionality.

    Connecting your muscles to your bones is a network of tendons that operate alongside the ligaments that connect one bone to the other. Finally, there is an intricate network of nerves that stems from your spinal cord and out into your body to give you sensations, muscle control, and regulation of a range of bodily functions.

    Any injury or damage to any ligament, muscle, tendon, bone, or nerve in the back can contribute towards back pain.

    What Are the Different Kinds of Back Pain?

    When you visit Dr James Tan for low back pain treatment, he would first want to diagnose the underlying cause of back pain and determine its type. Back pain, based on its duration from the time of onset, can be categorised into two types:

    • Acute back pain: This is defined as short-term pain that has lasted less than three months. This kind of sudden back pain is often caused by injuries such as muscle strains.
    • Chronic back pain: When the back pain has persisted for more than three months, it is often related to an underlying condition like arthritis or herniated discs and is referred to as chronic back pain.

    Along with looking at the duration of pain, your doctor will also want to pinpoint the particular location of your pain.

    • Lower back pain: This is the most common back pain location and is often caused by issues in your lumbar spine (lower back) like muscular strain, spinal stenosis, or slipped discs.
    • Upper back pain: Less common than lower back pain, often caused by poor posture or osteoarthritis in the thoracic spine.
    • Middle back pain: Typically caused by strained muscles or inflamed tendons around the ribcage area.

    What Causes Back Pain?

    There are a few common causes of back pain, including the following:

    • Muscle or ligament strain: Repeated heavy lifting, sudden awkward movements, or sports injuries can strain muscles and spinal ligaments. This is a common cause of short-term back pain.
    • Bulging or ruptured discs: Discs act as cushions between the bones (vertebrae) in your spine. This soft material inside a disc can bulge or rupture and press on a nerve, resulting in pain, numbness, or weakness.
    • Arthritis: Arthritis in your spine can cause a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord (a condition called spinal stenosis) that can affect your lower back.
    • Skeletal irregularities: Common issues like scoliosis (the curving of the spine to one side) or kyphoscoliosis (forward bending of the upper spin) can cause back pain.
    • Osteoporosis: In advanced cases of osteoporosis, you might get bone fractures, collapsed vertebrae, and herniated discs.
    • Stress: Both physical and emotional stress can cause your back muscles to tighten and cause spasms.
    • Poor posture
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Spine infections

    In some cases, back pain can be a side effect of pregnancy, kidney stones, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, and tumours that press on the spinal cord. Pinpointing the exact cause requires an exam by a doctor. If your back pain doesn’t improve with rest after a few days, it is crucial to go to the doctor.

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    Back Pain Treatment in Singapore

    Back pain is a common complaint that may be managed with rest, activity modification, painkillers, and home remedies during acute phases. Getting medical advice is critical if the pain becomes chronic or if any red-flag symptoms come up.

    Are you struggling with back pain? Contact Dr James Tan today who will create a customised treatment plan for you. To get on the road to recovery, email us at, call +65 6235 8781, or chat with us on WhatsApp at +65 8028 4572. We also offer treatment for cartilage injuries and heel pain treatment.


    Camden Medical

    1 Orchard Boulevard, #09-06

    Singapore 248649

    Mount Alvernia Hospital

    820 Thomson Road

    Medical Centre D #05-60

    Singapore 574623

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    Back Pain Treatment With Dr James Tan

    Dr James Tan, our back specialist at Ray of Health, deals with various orthopaedic conditions of the body. He advises his patients to consult him in case of any pain or injury at the earliest so that the condition can be assessed and diagnosed properly.

    1. Registration: Firstly, register with Dr James' team and book an appointment here.
    2. First appointment: At the first appointment, Dr James Tan will carry out a thorough physical exam for your back pain, evaluate your medical history.
    3. Diagnosis: Typically, additional diagnostic tests are required to access the causes of the problems accurately. This usually comes in the form of MRI or X-ray scans.
    4. Personalised Treatment Plan: Dr James will then create a personalised treatment plan based on your specific condition and needs, which could include undergoing surgery, and recommend the necessary treatment modalities to you.
    5. Follow-up sessions: Dr James will schedule additional follow-up sessions to monitor the recovery process until you fully recover.

    Disclaimer: Treatment plans may differ for different patients. Please contact Dr James for more information.

    dr james tan

    Medisave & Insurance Shield Plan Approved

    If you are a Singaporean or a Permanent Resident of Singapore, some of our orthopaedic procedures can be claimed under Medisave. The claimable amount will vary based on the procedure's complexity.

    For other situations, please consult our friendly clinic staff regarding the use of your Integrated Shield Plan insurance.

    What Causes Back Pain in Women?

    For women, back pain can have a variety of different causes, such as:

    • Postural issues from large breasts
    • Osteoporosis leading to thoracic fractures
    • Fibrocystic breast disease
    • Perimenopause and menopause affecting spine health
    • Oestrogen-influencing ligament laxity
    • Strained muscles from poor posture
    • Weak back muscles during pregnancy
    • Bulging discs from pregnancy weight and strain
    • Postpartum ligament laxity
    • Perimenopause affecting spine disc
    • Spinal stenosis which is more common in older women
    • Vertebral fractures from low oestrogen after menopause
    • Kidney and reproductive health issues like cysts, fibroids, endometriosis

    Back Pain Diagnosis

    When you visit Dr James Tan regarding your back issues, he will first perform a physical exam, take a detailed medical history, and ask about your symptoms. He may order some diagnostic imaging tests like an MRI or an X-ray to determine the cause of the back pain. Once the cause of back pain has been identified, Dr Tan will create a personalised treatment plan based on your specific condition and needs.

    Effective Low Back Pain Treatment, Singapore

    Lower back pain is the most common type of back pain that men and women experience. Lower back pain treatment in Singapore can comprise some at-home remedies, conservative treatment measures, and surgical options.

    Treatment For Back Pain — Home Remedies

    Dr James Tan may advise the following measures for lower back pain treatment at home:

    • Over-the-counter medications like Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin
    • Ice and heat therapy
    • Daily exercises and stretches
    • Physical therapy
    • Massage such as Deep Tissue Massage
    • Stress management
    • Losing weight if overweight

    Conservative Treatment For Lower Back Pain

    If rest, home remedies, and physical therapy do not show any improvement in your symptoms, you may wish to consult the doctor for further treatment options. When you visit Dr James Tan, he may recommend some non-surgical treatment options that include cortisone injections, administered directly into the epidural space around the spinal cord. These injections may help in reducing inflammation and act as short-term pain management during which time, the doctor's goal will be to devise a solution for chronic back pain treatment.

    Surgical Lower Back Pain Treatment In Singapore

    If all conservative treatment options fail to manage pain or if the injury and pain are too severe, Dr Tan, our orthopaedic surgeon, may recommend surgery. Severe back pain treatment may involve the following surgical options:

    Decompression Surgery

    Decompression surgery involves removing a part of any disc or bone spur that is pressing on a spinal nerve and causing back pain and other symptoms.

    Spinal Fusion

    Spinal fusion is performed for degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, fracture, stenosis, and other deformities of the spine. During the procedure, the surgeon removes the soft tissues between two or more vertebrae and replaces them with bone or metal for 6 to 12 months. During this time, the bones grow and fuse together to provide stability to the spine.

    Disc Replacement

    In this procedure, the surgeon replaces the damaged disc between the vertebrae with an artificial disc.

    Middle And Upper Back Pain Treatment

    Treatment for middle and upper back pain also involves similar measures as that of lower body pain. However, improving posture is an important element of upper and middle back treatment. Dr James Tan advises his patients on some measures that they can do as part of back pain treatment at home, which include taking plenty of rest, using ice therapy to reduce swelling, using heat therapy to reduce pain and stiffness, reducing stress, and doing light exercises and stretches.

    Should I Stay Active or Rest for Back Pain?

    Acute back pain often requires rest for a few days along with icing to reduce inflammation. After that initial rest, light activity and stretches can help manage pain by promoting blood flow.

    For chronic pain, remaining active prevents future stiffness and weakness, along with exercises to strengthen your back.

    Dr James Tan advises his patients to find a balance between rest and activity to effectively manage back pain.

    What Are the Effective Exercises for Back Pain?

    Physical therapy and exercises can help with chronic back pain. For upper back pain, the following exercises can be helpful:

    • Shoulder rolls: Roll shoulders up, back, and down in a circular motion
    • Upper back stretch: Grasp arms behind back and lift chest
    • Doorway chest stretch: Face a doorway with your arm extended and gently lean forward
    • Resistance band rows: Pull a resistance band back with elbows bent
    • Wall angels: Lean back against a wall with arms overhead, and glide your arms down

    To release tension and pain in the middle of your back, consider the following exercises:

    • Cat cow pose: Arch back up and down on all fours
    • Trunk twist: Twist upper body from side to side
    • Knee to chest: Hug one knee at a time into the chest
    • Thoracic rotations: Clasp hands and rotate upper back
    • Foam rolling: Use foam roller vertically along the mid-back

    To relieve lower pain back, the following exercises may be helpful:

    • Knee to chest stretch
    • Pelvic tilts
    • Hamstring stretch
    • Partial crunches
    • Supine leg raises
    • Plank hold
    • Kneeling cat-cow
    • Child's pose
    • Wall sits
    • Bridge pose

    Note: While these can be great exercises for some people, they are not universally beneficial. It is crucial to see a qualified physical therapist and get specific recommendations for your unique case.

    Exercises To Help Relieve Back Pain

    Check out this video below for effective stretching exercises that can help relieve back pain.

    Play Video

    Back Pain Treatment With Dr James Tan

    Dr James Tan, our back pain specialist at Ray of Health, Singapore deals with various orthopaedic conditions of the body. He advises patients to consult him in case of any pain or injury at the earliest so that the condition can be assessed and diagnosed properly.

    At the first appointment, Dr James Tan will perform a thorough physical exam for your back pain, evaluate your medical history, and order any additional diagnostic tests if required. He will then create a personalised treatment plan based on your specific condition and needs, and recommend the necessary treatment options. Contact him today for more information about lower back pain treatment or any other orthopaedic condition.

    Frequently-Asked Questions About Back Pain Treatment in Singapore

    Being strategic with heat and ice treatment for back pain is important. Here is what you will want to keep in mind:

    • Ice helps reduce acute inflammation and pain. Use for the first 48 to 72 hours.
    • Heat helps loosen tight muscles and increase blood flow (use after acute phase subsides)
    • Alternate ice and heat for 15 minutes at a time for effective relief


    The information provided on this page is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Always consult your healthcare provider or specialist doctor regarding any medical condition that you might be facing and act on the doctor’s recommendations.


    1. "Back Pain Basics: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Steps to Take", National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 2023,
    2. "Back Pain", National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke,
    3. "Prevent Back Pain", U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2024,

    About The Author

    dr james tan

    Dr James Tan Chung Hui

    Dr James Tan is a skilled orthopaedic surgeon at Quantum Orthopaedics located at Camden Medical and Mount Alvernia Hospital, known for providing specialised medical services. Dr Tan has more than 10 years of experience in sports surgery and exercise medicine in Singapore. Apart from partnering with the industry to introduce various treatment techniques, Dr Tan has treated athletes from the Singapore National Teams and professional footballers from the Singapore Premier League and the Young Lions.

    Dr Tan specialises in treating sports injuries of the knee, shoulder and elbow joints, as well as cartilage and meniscus surgery. He is a member of the elite Asian Shoulder and Elbow Group and a founding member of the Singapore Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Society.

    Medical Education and Affiliations
    MBBS - National University of Singapore (NUS), Faculty of Medicine
    Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (MRCS)
    MMed - Master of Medicine in Orthopaedic Surgery (NUS)
    Fellow of Royal College of Surgeons (Edinburgh)
    Adjunct Assistant Professor | NUS, LKC
    Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgery, Sports and Exercise Medicine
    Head of Department | Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Centre
    Principal Investigator of Tissue Engineering
    National Medical Research Council grants
    Collaboration with Scientists at NTU, TUM, A*Star, Osteopore & Trendlines Medical Singapore

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