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Broadgate spine & joint clinic news

by Richard Hollis

If you are suffering recurrent back pain what can you do to help yourself and resolve the problem? Back pain can resolve itself in a week or two but for four out of five people, however, it recurs.  In a recent study published in the The Lancet, 70-80% of back sufferers were still having pain a year later in spite of receiving treatment.

Broadgate Chiropractors Give Three Tips to Prevent Recurrent Back Pain

1. Staying Active

It’s tempting to rest, in fact doctors used to advise bed rest, but newer research has shown that this often prolongs recovery. Many people are afraid of moving about in case they make their problem worse and prolong the problem.  It is OK to decrease activity or avoid sports but gentle exercise is helpful even if there is a small amount of pain at the time or for a while afterwards. Staying within your limits with gentle, steady walking, swimming, cycling, pilates or yoga can all be helpful. Gradually increasing the exercises as your muscles and joints get used to moving more again is a good way to prevent recurrences.

2. Avoid aggravating activities

If your back pain begins whilst bending over or getting out of the car, it’s likely that this is not the cause of the pain but rather the trigger factor. It is unlikely that something you have done many times before would suddenly become a problem without a change in your back itself. A common mechanism of injury is from gradual weakening of your back muscles and core muscle strength leading to stress and strain on the spinal joints which gradually stiffen and can eventually cause pain.

There are some common activities that often aggravate your back. These include prolonged sitting, lifting badly or lifting and twisting. Sometimes doing the activity for a short period is ok but doing it for longer spells causes problems. It’s best to start the activity gently, gradually increasing the level you put in and then finishing with a few stretches.

It is also worth keeping note of when the pain starts. If the back ache is worse in bed it could be your bed that is not supporting your spine correctly. If your back is stiff after sitting in sofa then perhaps this is the problem. These are obvious potential causes of back strain but our lives are full of hidden causes of back pain. A car seat with offset pedals or steering wheel can stress the spine for example.  A computer monitor, key board or mouse off to one side can do the same. Childcare also has it’s hazards. Bending over a changing mat or putting a baby in a car seat is another common cause of stress and strain on your back. If you do a lot desk or PC work there are tips to set up your desk and chair and you should consider having a workstation assessment done.

3. Get regular check-ups from a back specialist

If anti-inflammatory drugs don’t help resolve your back pain quickly, then you might not want to wait for referral to your local NHS physiotherapist. Currently the waiting times can be twelve weeks and if you are still in pain, it is becoming chronic. If it does resolve there is the chance of recurrence in a the next few months or following years. There are some other options for back care to help reoccurances.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the government body that recommends the best treatments for medical conditions to the NHS says that manipulation from a chiropractor, osteopath or specially trained physiotherapist should be part of effective care for back pain. A short course of treatment will often restore strength and flexibility to the back allowing you to get back to full activity. Once you have the initial problem under control and the pain has resolved there is some evidence that a periodic session of treatment can help prevent back pain from recurring in many people.

Back pain can limit what exercise and activities you are able to do, but with the right treatment and exercises you can get rid of the problem and carry on as before. These straightforward steps will help you get better.

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