Back pain is common and affects most people at some point in their life.
It usually feels like an ache, tension or stiffness in your back.
The pain can be triggered by sitting badly, bending or sitting awkwardly, or lifting incorrectly.
Back pain is not generally caused by a serious disease and, in most cases,
gets better within 12 weeks. It can usually be treated successfully by taking painkillers and keeping mobile.
Types of back pain
Backache is most common in the lower back, although it can be felt
anywhere along your spine, from your neck down to your hips.
Types of Back Pain include:
Treating back pain
If you have back pain, try to remain as active as possible and continue with your daily activities.
In the past, doctors advised rest for back pain, but most experts now agree that being inactive for long periods is actually bad for your back. In fact, moderate activity, such as walking or doing everyday tasks, will help recovery.
Take painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, if you feel the need to.
Hot or cold compression packs may also help reduce pain. You can buy compression packs from your pharmacy, or a bag of frozen vegetables and a hot water bottle will work just as well.
Your state of mind can play an important role too. Living with pain can make it hard to be cheerful, but research has shown that people who remain positive tend to recover faster than those who get depressed.
Some people choose to have manual therapy, such as physiotherapy or osteopathy, as soon as the pain starts.
Private appointments cost around £40.
For back pain lasting for more than six weeks (which doctors describe as chronic), treatment typically involves a combination of painkillers and either acupuncture, exercise classes or manual therapy.
Spinal surgery is usually only considered when all else has failed.
When to see your GP
Most cases of back pain get better on their own and you don’t need to see a doctor. However, you should contact your GP if you’re worried about your back or struggling to cope with the pain.
You should seek immediate medical help if your back pain is accompanied by: – Fever – Unexplained Weight Loss – Swelling in the Back – Pain in other parts of your body – Loss of Bladder or Bowel control – Numbness around your genitals – Pain that is worse at night
These are what are known as red flag symptoms and could be a sign of something more serious.
Preventing back pain
How you sit, stand, lift and lie down can have an important effect on the health of your back.
You should try not to place too much pressure on your back and ensure your back is strong and supple.
Regular exercise, such as walking and swimming, is an excellent way of preventing back pain.
Activities such as yoga or pilates can improve your flexibility and the strength of your back muscles