Back pain is a very common musculoskeletal complaint affecting 80% of adults at some point in their lifetime, although the symptoms and severity will vary greatly. Many factors may contribute to your condition including injury and diseases, but for some cases there is no specific cause and clinicians refer to this type of pain as ‘non-specific’ or ‘mechanical low back pain’.
There are some signs and symptoms that must not be ignored. You should always seek urgent medical advice if you have back pain and:
- A loss of control of your bladder or bowel
- Numbness around your genitals, buttocks or surrounding area
- Chest pain
- Unexplained weight loss
How can I lower my risk of developing back pain?
- Carrying extra weight, especially around your belly, puts added stress on the muscles in the lower back and can affect your posture and position of your pelvis; in turn leading to lower back pain
- Weak muscles and abdominals are unable to support your posture and trunk when you move, which can lead to overloading the small muscles in the back which are not designed to do this job and lead to injury
- Your occupation could also affect your back. Those with manual jobs are at risk due to heavy lifting and repetitive bending, whilst those with sedentary jobs are at risk due to the amount of time they sit, particularly if they tend to slouch
How can I treat my back pain?
Try to keep mobile
It may be tempting to remain on bed rest until the pain subsides however evidence suggests that remaining mobile may actually help reduce the intensity and duration of your back pain as well as prevent it from returning. Start off with low impact exercise first such as walking or swimming
Take pain relief
People often worry that taking painkillers will make the symptoms worse by masking the pain, however by taking painkillers while you are in pain it will allow usually you to continue with your daily routine which in turn will often speed up your recovery
A physiotherapist can help identify the root cause of your back pain and use a variety of techniques including massage, acupuncture and home exercises to reduce your pain and prevent it recurring
There is lots of evidence to support the idea that a weakened core puts pressure on the little muscles and supporting structures in the lower back. Therefore by strengthening the muscles which support our trunk and core, it will minimise your risk of developing back pain as well as help to ease the pain if you are already suffering.