I’ve seen a few more ‘crock’ backs than usual these past few weeks and as this has coincided with a new advice release from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy on your back, the July finger is clearly indicating that some Physio-words need spreading on the remarkable structure that is our spine. Have a read, digest, absorb and integrate!
Back pain research constantly gives new insights into previously held beliefs – here’s advice on how to tackle back pain and reduce your chances of it occurring again.
The spine is a strong stable structure and not easily damaged so in most instances it is a simple sprain or strain. In these cases – 98% according to research – people recover reasonably quickly and many do so without treatment. Some people experience repeat episodes, which can be distressing, but again these are rarely dangerous.
In very rare cases, there may be something more serious or underlying that requires medical advice. A scan may help with your diagnosis and symptoms to be aware of are on listed at the bottom of this article. However, these account for just two per cent of cases so if your physio or GP does not send you for one, you should take it as a good sign that there is nothing concerning going on.
In the first few days of a new episode of low back pain avoiding aggravating activities may help to relieve pain. However, staying as active as possible and returning to all usual activities gradually is actually important in aiding recover – this includes staying in work where possible. While it is normal to move differently and more slowly in the first few days of having back pain, this altered movement can be unhealthy if continued in the long-term.
The important thing is to practice and get your body used to carrying different loads and weights in a way we find comfortable and efficient. We all operate differently and it’s perfectly normal for us to find our own technique for lifting.
Start slowly and build up both the amount and intensity of what you do and don’t worry if it’s sore to begin with – you won’t be damaging your back. No one type of exercise is proven to be more effective than others so just pick an exercise you enjoy, that you can afford to maintain in the long-term and that fits in with your daily schedule.
They should only be used in conjunction with other measures, such as exercise, and even then just as a short-term option as they can have side-effects. Exercise, which is safer and cheaper, is considered the preferred option.
For these conditions, surgery can help the leg symptoms but it is important to understand that it is not always required. You also need to know that on average, the results for back surgery are no better in the medium and long term than non-surgical interventions, such as exercise. So a non-surgical option, which includes exercise and activity, should always come first.
This is because it reduces stress and improves your overall feeling of well-being, making you less susceptible to the triggers of pain in the first instance and helping you to cope when it does occur. Aim for 7.5 – 8 hours a night and try to aim for a regular routine, as far as possible. It is also very important to know that there is no best position or type of mattress – whatever feels most comfortable for you is best.
Crucially, it’s important to know that all pain is 100% real and never ‘all in your head’, even when factors like stress or mood are involved. Each of the factors can turn up the volume on your pain and gaining a greater understanding of when that can happen puts you in a stronger position to recognise them and learn how to turn down the dial again.
Physiotherapists provide expert advice, guidance and treatment for back pain to help reduce your chances of future episodes, you can find more information on how I can help here.
Find out more: www.csp.org.uk/yourback