Most of us have suffered with back pain at some point in our lives. This common problem may be due to several triggers including poor posture whilst sitting or standing, lifting badly, a sedentary lifestyle or moving incorrectly. It is generally not caused by anything serious but can often be quite debilitating. The sooner the condition is treated the better, as this reduces the chances of the body compensating for the symptoms elsewhere and aides the reduction in inflammation, which if left for too long can damage surrounding structures. Prevent back pain by keeping mobile, sitting/standing/lifting correctly, exercising regularly and maintaining a good healthy diet/lifestyle. Treatments that can help with back pain include Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Massage and Personal Training.
Symptoms of back pain
Back pain is most commonly felt in the low back. In fact, around 8 out of 10 people in the UK have had low back pain at some point in their lives. However, back pain isn’t just limited to the low back. Back pain can be felt anywhere along the spine, from the top of your neck to the coccyx (tail bone) and pelvis. Symptoms vary depending on the extent of the injury. The type of pain can often be described as constant or ‘comes and goes’; sharp, achy or stiff; dull or deep and this can help the practitioner to distinguish between conditions. There may also be referred symptoms elsewhere and this is often described as an extension of the pain down a limb or limbs, pins and needles and/or numbness. This can be due to the nerve exiting the spine being compressed by surrounding structures such as a disc or muscles. Visceral structures (such as the gall bladder and liver) can also refer pain to the back or elsewhere.
Back pain symptoms are classified by their duration. ‘Acute’ means it started within the past 3 months, ‘sub-acute’ between the past 6-12 weeks and ‘chronic’ is anything lasting over 3 months. Whether your symptoms are acute, sub-acute or chronic, the sooner you seek help the better. The body is very good at adapting, so when you’re in pain your body will get you in a position or move in a way that will avoid the pain. However, compensation patterns can lead to problems moving to another part of the body and leave other areas, plus the area where the pain began, susceptible to further injury. Practitioners at the clinic can speed up the recovery and get you functioning better quicker whilst helping you to avoid a relapse.
Preventing back pain
Back pain can be prevented if we make sure we look after it. Unfortunately, our lifestyles tend to be more sedentary than our bodies were designed for. As a consequence, the health of the muscles and of the spine tends to decrease leaving our back susceptible to injuries.
Keeping yourself mobile is very important. We were built to move more than we were to be stationary. Desk workers tend to suffer back pain a lot because of this. When working at your computer it is easy to let yourself get consumed by the work at hand: the next thing you realise, you haven’t moved a muscle for over 3 hours (sound familiar?). This can heavily reduce the strength of your core muscles, the group of muscles that help support the spine and decrease unwanted movement. A tip often used is to set an alarm on your phone or computer at 45 minutes to remind yourself to get moving.
Get up and get moving
Regular exercise is also extremely important. It doesn’t have to be a marathon (but why not?). Brisk walking, running, gym, tennis, pilates, yoga, tai chi, badminton, cycling etc. can all help to boost endorphins and get the joints moving. Do your exercise outside and you get a vitamin D hit too!
Stand and sit straight
Your posture dictates how stress is distributed around the body. A good posture means the body distributes stress evenly and with minimal exertion. So making sure you’re sitting, standing, lifting and/or moving correctly is essential to preventing back pain.
A good diet will make sure your joints, muscles and nerves are getting all the necessary nutrients to stay healthy and avoid injury.
Get some rest
Making sure you get enough sleep can be difficult with many of our lifestyles but making sure you get plenty of rest allows the body to regenerate and repair where needed. Reducing this will mean your body will not repair fully and you’ll be further injuring an already injured body, making you really injured.