Back Pain

The WellHub Team

Low Back pain (LBP) is common and normal.  Around 80% of people will experience back pain during their lifetime.

 

Simple Low Back Pain or as it is also known non-specific LBP accounts for 90% of all cases of back pain.  Simple LBP is caused by a range of factors including poor posture, lack of exercise and strains of muscles, tendons and ligaments. 

 

Sciatica or as it is also known Nerve Root pain will cause pain to travel down the leg due to irritation of the nerve in the spine.  you may also experience numbness or pins and needles down the leg along with the pain.

 

Serious Spinal pathology is very rare and accounts for less than 1% of all cases of LBP.  Red Flags are used to identify if there may be something more serious underlying.  If you have any of the following symptoms along with back or leg pain you should attend your A&E department:

 

  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Loss of control of bladder or bowel
  • Numbness or tingling around your back passage or genitals
  • Difficulty walking due to leg weakness or feeling unsteady
  • Loss of sexual function   

 

How can you help to manage your back pain 

 

It is important to remember that most people with back pain recover in under 6 weeks.  Being proactive and taking steps to help yourself is very important to improve your chances of a speedy recovery.

 

  1. Avoid bed rest – previously patients with LBP were advised to take bed rest but we now know that this delays recovery and it is much better to stay active.  We are designed to move and inactivity can cause more pain and stiffness.
  2. Try to return to normal activity, including work as soon as possible.  Starting with short walks of 5-10mins and gradual increase the time you walk each.  Swimming is also a good way to start moving again.
  3. Take regular analgesia if required to allow you to move.  Speak to your GP or pharmacist regarding this.
  4. Try to relax.  It is known that tension and stress can increase pain. 
  5. Stay positive - Back pain can get better.  Those who stay positive and are proactive about managing their pain are more likely to get better sooner.
  6. Exercise – exercise has been shown to be the most effective way to reduce and prevent back pain.  Try some gentle flexibility exercises for your spine and hips.  

 

 

Click the link to watch a really useful video on back pain ‘Low Back Pain’

 

On occasions pain can become Persistent or Chronic.  This is pain that has been ongoing for more than 3months. 

You will find more helpful information on persistent pain at the Pain Tool Kit

 

Here's another short video on ‘Understanding pain in less than 5minutes and what to do about it’

 

How to help prevent back pain 

 

  1. Exercise – exercise has been shown to be the most effective way to reduce and prevent back pain.  It has many benefits but can also help with stress and weight loss which can also affect back pain.  It helps to reduce stiffness, keeps us strong and improves circulation to the spine. To find out more about exercise click here. 
  2. Posture – our bodies are designed to move and unfortunately our lives are becoming more sedentary.  The most important thing about posture is to change it regularly.  Try to get up and move every 30mins, even if it just to stand up were you are.  
  3. Stop smoking – smoking affects the blood supply to the spine which can result in slowing down the recovery from simple back strains. - Link to smoking cessation area.
  4. Keep your weight down – being over weight can affect your posture which in turn may aggravate your back. Link to weight loss
  5. Reduce stress – stress causes tension in your muscles which in turn increase or cause pain.  To reduce stress try relaxation techniques and general exercise is also very beneficial.
  6. 6. Sleep – sleep is vital for your health and wellbeing.  It helps with both mental and physical health.  Sleep is a time for the body to repair any damage caused during the day.  At night more protein is released from the cells and this is the building blocks  for cells and allows them to repair any damage.  For tips on sleep click here.
  7. Lifting and bending are safe – our spines are designed to bend and lift.  Pain can occur from lifting something too heavy or in an awkward manner.   The important thing to remember is to gradually increase the load of what you are lifting and allow your body to get used to it.  Using correct manual handling techniques in the work place is also important. 

 

This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If your condition fails to improve please contact your GP or physiotherapist.

 

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