Most people will experience some sort of back pain at some point in their lives, and health experts are warning that our increasingly sedentary lifestyle is contributing to more cases of chronic back pain. Consumer research from the British Chiropractic Association reported that 71% of those suffering from back pain had been doing so for up to 10 years. The survey also revealed that 40% of people admitted to not taking any proactive measures to look after their backs.
Common causes of back pain
- Modern lifestyle – sitting hunched over a computer in one position for long periods.
- Lifting, carrying or moving heavy or awkward objects
- Bending for long periods (i.e gardening, decorating)
- Twisting awkwardly
- Muscle overuse – sporting injury or repetitive strain injury
- Slouching – poor posture
Back pain is very common and in many cases an acute episode presents itself suddenly and resolves quickly without the need for any treatment. However, back pain can become persistent and debilitating. The majority of people suffering with back pain do not have any serious underlying condition, but it is always recommended that you consult your GP for further advice.
A preventative approach
It’s often not until back pain gets pretty bad that we decide to do something about it. The fact is we should be thinking about protecting our backs even before we get the first niggle. Here are our top 6 tips for keeping back pain at bay.
- Do back-strengthening and stretching exercises 2 or 3 times a week.
- Stand straight and sit up straight.
- Avoid heavy lifting, or if unavoidable, bend knees and keep back straight when lifting.
- If you are overweight, losing weight will put less strain on your back.
- Keep active and eat a healthy balanced diet.
- Your health Insurance may cover you for treatment with a chiropractor or an osteopath.
Coping with back pain
If you do end up with back pain, don’t ignore it. There are many reasons why we might suffer back pain so understanding the cause is the first hurdle. Don’t put off going to your GP to rule out anything serious.
If you have private medical insurance, get in touch with your insurer to check if specialist care is available under your policy. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to check your policy details regarding pre-existing conditions.
One of the most common mistakes we make when we suffer back pain is to rest. Unless there is a serious underlying condition, movement will help. Our backs are actually designed to keep moving. Using an ice pack (wrapped in a tea towel) on the affected area for 10 minutes every hour will help to reduce inflammation.
If your GP has ruled out any underlying condition, and your back pain doesn’t seem to be getting better, you might want to consider seeking private treatment.
Chiropractors are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of back and neck pain. They are experts in conditions related to the spine and use manual manipulation to free up stiff joints and restore normal nerve function.
Osteopaths also specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, using physical manipulation, stretching and massage to increase joint mobility and relieve muscle tension.
Both chiropractic and Osteopathy are included in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) pathway guidelines for the treatment of low back pain.