Back pain

Back pain affects up to 80% of us at some point in our lives. The NHS spends more than £1 billion per year on back pain related costs, but even more money is lost through leaves of absence in the workplace caused by excessive aches and pains.Your spine is made of solid, bony blocks reinforced by strong ligaments and muscles. It is surprisingly difficult to damage your spine, but if strained, the surrounding muscles and ligaments can cause discomfort and pain.

How can we help?

Often back pain resolves quickly by itself, but if it persists for more than a few days, osteopathy may be able to help.About half of those who suffer an episode of back pain will have a recurrence of symptoms within a few years. We can give you advice about what to do and how to keep active if your pain does return.Stress can increase the amount of pain you feel by magnifying the effect of tension and muscle spasms. We may talk to you about breathing and relaxation exercises to help relieve this tension.Back pain is not normally caused by anything serious, though it is natural to worry about what may be causing your symptoms. We will always complete a routine examination that checks for more serious diagnoses and will advise and discuss with you on any further action that might be required.

Tips to help yourself

Here are some tips that will help you to care for your back:

1. Early intervention can reduce the amount that you have to suffer and get you back to normal activities more quickly. It may be beneficial to seek advice sooner rather than later

2. When lifting and carrying, always keep the item close to your body. Make sure to bend your knees and let your legs do the work. Try not to twist your back – turn with your feet

3. Take regular exercise (aim for 30 minutes every day). People who are physically fit generally get less back pain, and recover faster if they do get it

4. Pace yourself when undertaking any physical activity, especially when it is intensive or you are unaccustomed to it i.e. spring cleaning, or tidying the garden after the winter

5. Adjust your car seats, use a rolled up towel to support your lower back and take regular breaks on long journeys

6. Mattresses and sofas wear out over time and can cause back pain. If yours is over seven years old, it might be time to get a new one

7. Keeping active can help with most back pain. Prolonged bed rest is usually not good for your back, and delays recovery. If you have any concerns about your back an osteopath may be able to help.