It is currently thought that over 75% of the UK population have, at one time or another, experienced back pain which has prohibited them from completing everyday tasks. It is said to be responsible for 37% of all chronic pain in men and 44% in women. This is not only a discomfort for the majority of the population but it actually effects the UK economy to the tune of millions of pounds per year.
The daily discomfort experienced by most of us are generally put down to weak supporting muscles around the spinal area. This leads to adopting poor postural positions which can become a bad daily habit of continuing with the same repetitive movements. Many will simply carry on through this nagging pain in the back, but sometimes the British ‘stiff upper lip’ can only carry you so far.
As the average Brit sits for up to eight hours per day, it doesn’t seem to bode well for many of us. However, there are ways of treating back pain effectively so you can be free from discomfort and have the ability to carry out everyday tasks. Despite the fact that there are ways of treating back pain, it can be difficult to know exactly who should treat it. Is medication the answer? A physiotherapist? A chiropractor?
In the majority of cases for back pain, you won’t need to see a doctor at all and most feelings of discomfort should vanish with or without treatment. Never the less, you should visit a doctor if you have a tingling sensation or numbness, if your condition doesn’t improve after medication, or if you have pain after a fall or injury.
It is also essential to see a doctor if your back pain is causing the following situations: unintentional weight loss, fevers, numbness of the legs, pain, weakness or trouble urinating. These symptoms could signal a more serious problem that requires treatment quickly. If this isn’t the case then the following options may be best suited for you:
When back pain initially occurs it is often a good idea to go and see a primary care specialist such as visiting an osteopath or chiropractor clinic. The individual should give you an initial examination and, dependant on the prognosis, may well refer you on to another spinal specialist if appropriate. Different specialists will inevitably operate in different ways but if you don’t feel any pain relief or improvements within four to eight weeks then this specialist should recommend a referral to another practitioner.
The benefit of seeing a primary care specialist such an osteopathy practitioner is that they are able to manipulate your back in order to speed up the recovery process. Similarly, chiropractors use a range of techniques through manual therapy to try to ensure there is a smooth link between the muscles, bones and ligaments. They can sometimes also offer advice on diet, exercise and lifestyle choices to aid improvement.
It was previously thought that to recover from a bad back, it was necessary to get as much bed-rest as possible. However, it is now well recognised that those who remain active are more likely to recover quickly. This can be difficult at first if the pain is severe, but moving around just a little bit more each day will contribute to a speedy recovery.
You might want to consider visiting an exercise specialist who will be able to tell you exactly what sort of exercises will be beneficial for someone that is recovering from a back injury. If this is not possible then simply walking to the shops or even around the house will help. It is normal to feel a little discomfort but if the pain becomes too much then it is important to stop what you’re doing.
Although physiotherapists are linked with sports injuries predominately, they are also valuable when it comes to more generic back injuries. For example, physiotherapists will regularly treat bones, joints and soft tissue injuries that are developed from back pain, neck pain and shoulder pain. They are also able to help out with your lungs and breathing.
The NHS has many physiotherapists who take a holistic view of healthcare when dealing with a patient. They will provide you with vital information and advice that can affect your daily life. An example is educating people about correct and proper posture and correct lifting techniques to prevent injury in the future.
Performing surgery for back pain is usually only recommended when all other treatment options have been exhausted or have failed. Alternatively, you may need surgery quickly if the spine has become unbalanced or if the pain is so severe that you are physically unable to sleep or undertake everyday activities.
Procedures are able to reduce pain caused by compressed nerves in your spine, but these procedures are not always successful and pain can persist after an operation. In addition to this, as with all types of surgical procedures, operations will inevitably come with an element of risk. In a few cases, nerves near the spine can be damaged, resulting in problems such as numbness.
Ultimately, the treatment that you will need is very much dependent on how you yourself feel. If you have already visited a doctor and the damage isn’t likely to be permanent then you may want to consider changing your lifestyle or visiting a chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist. The important thing to remember is that there are many different ways of treating back pain, you just need to find the most appropriate for you.