Back pain is the number 1 problem seen by osteopaths and can
cause no end of misery. If you’re experiencing back pain right now, I
Tell me about back pain
One of the most common problems seen by osteopaths is back pain, which can be experienced anywhere between the neck and the hips but is most commonly felt in the lower back. It is a problem which can affect anybody and most people experience a degree of back pain at some time in their life. The pain experienced can vary from a mild ache to stiffness and moderate or severe pain. Much of the time it gets better quickly, often within a few days or weeks, but in serious cases it may last longer. General back pain is usually caused by poor lifting practices, sudden movement, moving awkwardly, bad posture, a new form of physical activity which muscles are not used to, or a bad seated position.
Treating back pain
Most experts now recommend moderate activity, such as walking or stretching, to aid back pain. However, it is always important to seek professional advice related to your specific condition before undertaking any exercise programme.
Using a combination of physical manipulation and massage, osteopathy can be very helpful in improving any pain or discomfort and supports the body’s natural healing abilities. Your osteopath may also advise you on specific exercises or stretches to aid your recovery, or may recommend cold or heat treatment depending on your condition.
People experiencing back problems often find Pilates a very helpful form of exercise due to its focus on strengthening muscles and increasing flexibility. It can also help to prevent future back pain as you gain greater awareness of your body and how you sit and move.
As unlikely as it sounds, research shows that people who are more positive or accepting of back pain are more likely to make a quicker recovery, so if you are able to find a way to think differently about your condition you may find it helps.
Should you decide to visit your GP, he or she may prescribe painkillers or anti-inflammatories. Although it is not possible to comment on every possible back pain condition, you should contact your GP immediately if you have:
- persistent, disabling or sever pain
- constant pain that doesn’t ease when lying down
- pain that is getting worse
- back pain following an accident or injury
- pain that is worse at night
- unexplained weight loss
- a temperature of 38ºC (100.4ºF) or above
- inability to pass urine
- loss of bladder or bowel control
- numbness around your upper thighs, groin area, genitals, buttocks or back passage
- numbness, weakness or tingling in your arms or legs
- swelling in the back
- abdominal pain
Please note that the above information is very brief and condensed; for proper diagnosis and treatment, please see your GP or osteopath.