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There is a very good chance that at some point in your life, you’ve experienced back pain. It is the biggest cause of disability in the UK, with low back pain in particular making up 11% of UK disabilities. It’s also a big reason behind work absenteeism, with 5.6 million work days lost each year due to back pain.
There are a few reasons, some more obvious than others. A sedentary lifestyle is often seen as one of the main culprits. With a large percentage of jobs involving sitting behind a desk, it automatically means that a large chunk of our daily routines means being inactive, and with the rise of people spending their time relaxation time by staying at home and watching Netflix, it’s very easy to spend a large part of your life not moving.
One potential cause is fear avoidance and our understanding of back pain. A study into back pain beliefs showed that participants had negative beliefs on a range of issues, such whether or not they should keep moving when they have a back injury, fear that after an injury they would then permanently have a weak back, to their relationships with their healthcare practitioners.
Another issue is how we currently deal with back pain in the UK. A review into our current service within the NHS for back pain showed that there is no structure to how we deal with back complaints, with little evidence to the evidence base and patients have to deal with constant delays at every step. Patients also tend to receive very poor rehabilitation advice.
Whilst there are no full proof methods to preventing back pain, there are plenty of things you can do to limit the chances of you developing it and to deal with it when it does arise.
Try your best to create good habits around movement by making sure you keep yourself moving throughout the day (if you want to get some tips on how to create good habits watch our YouTube video on it here). You should be aiming to move as often as possible. I recommend that patients should be getting up and moving at least every hour when they’re not in pain, and a minimum of every 30 minutes when they are. We want to promote blood flow to the area and movement is one of the best ways to do this.
You should also try and do plenty of exercise every week. Swimming is a fantastic all body exercise and it keeps the pressure off our backs as we’re buoyant in the water, with back stroke being the best. To keep yourself nice and mobile, you can also try yoga. This is another great exercise because it helps not only with flexibility, but you will also learn some fantastic breathing techniques which will help activate your parasympathetic nervous system which can reduce pain levels.
Back pain can be awful when it comes to sleeping. It can be hard to get to sleep, and even when we do it can get disturbed as we move throughout the night. In general I suggest to patients that they should sleep on their backs. This however can cause discomfort and so a pillow underneath the legs help his take some of the stress off the lower back. Sleeping on your front is one of the most damaging for our backs, but it can also be hard to break habits so a pillow underneath your stomach whilst you sleep may help. For other information on sleeping and pillow positions check out my blog on an osteopathic approach to sleeping.
With work taking up such a large part of our days, making sure we have a good desk setup is really important. Making sure you have your chair at the right hight for example can take a huge strain off your lower back (you can find out more information here).
One of the advantages of going to see an osteopath for your back pain is the speed at which you can get an appointment, with the majority of patients being seen within the week.
We can also give you peace of mind by giving you a diagnosis. We will take a detailed case history and then do a thorough examination so that you know not only what is happening but why. Once you know the cause of your back pain and why we will then offer you treatment using a variety of techniques that may include osteopathy, medical acupuncture and massage to give you more mobility and reduce pain levels.
Where AT Health really excels though is our rehabilitation programme. Treatments with us don’t just stop on the treatment table as you will be given a wide range of advice and exercises at the end of your session so that not only do you go away pain free, but you also have a greater understanding of what is going on so you can deal with your complaint and make sure it doesn’t come back in the future.
If you’re experiencing back pain, it’s always best to seek medical advice, particularly if you’re having symptoms travelling into your legs such as pins and needles, numbness and/or weakness or you’re having issues with your bowels or bladder. If you’d like to come in and have a chat, you can call or book online.
0208 088 0533