People who start to suffer from back pain at work can take some simple steps to ease the problem and prevent it from getting worse, an osteopathy organisation says.

Workers can take some self-help measures such as painkillers or exercise if the problem is getting in the way of sleeping, according to the British Osteopathic Association (BOA).

A survey by the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the US showed more women than men used these measures in 2007 to treat back and neck pain.

Kelston Chorley, osteopath and head of professional development at the BOA, said if self-help measures do not work, people should visit their GP or osteopath.

"These are professional people who have expert knowledge of back problems and can find out if your back problem is something that’s going to lead to something in the future, or whether it is just one of those passing things," he added.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the average level of employee absence during 2007 was eight days, a decrease from 8.4 days in 2006.