Back pain can be a debilitating and difficult condition to live with, especially if it limits what you’re able to do. It may start as something small and develop over time or it may be due to an accident or injury but in every instance you should treat your back pain seriously and ensure you do all you can to heal and reduce the pain.
What are your symptoms?
The majority of back pain is the dull ache known as lumbago, which usually refers to lower back ache but can be felt anywhere from your neck to your hips. Back pain is sometimes caused by a specific injury or condition and some of the most common include:
- Sciatica – where the sciatic nerve in your back is irritated or compressed and can cause numbness and tingling as far as down your leg
- Slipped discs – where one of the discs in the spine is damaged and presses on your nerves
- Whiplash – though this is a neck injury it can result in pain in your back too
- Ankylosing Spondylitis – a long term condition which causes pain and stiffness where the spine meets the pelvis
There are plenty of other types of back pain which people suffer but doctors refer to this as non-specific back pain and can still provide treatment.
What causes back pain?
Most back pain is caused by minor injuries, strains or irritation to the nerves and is triggered by everyday activities in the home or workplace. Causes of back pain include:
- Lifting and carrying heavy objects
- Bending awkwardly or frequently
- Slouching or hunching when sitting
- Twisting awkwardly
- Over use of muscles, such as in excessive sport or exercise
What can be done to help back pain?
There are many ways you may be able to help your back pain, looked at in more depth below:
Simple analgesic painkillers, such as paracetamol may help, as long as you follow the directions closely and when your back flares up, you ensure you take the maximum dose and no more than that.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs include things such as ibuprofen and may be able to lessen the swelling and pain in your back. You can use NSAIDs and painkillers together but this is not recommended for long periods.
Research shows that exercise is the most effective way to combat back pain. It releases the body’s natural painkillers, endorphins, and can help train your body to heal itself more quickly and effectively. Stretching, strengthening and stabilising exercises are best to help heal and rebuild your back muscles. It is recommended you talk to a physiotherapist about the type of exercise you carry out.
Other types of treatment include working on your posture, trying complementary medicines such as herbal remedies and acupuncture, although these have no NHS backing. Diet and nutrition changes can help if you back pain is related to weight and you may also be able to get a referral to your local pain management clinic, to help alleviate and manage daily symptoms.
Do discuss any back pain problems you have please contact Dr Stephanie Barrett on: Tel: 020 7730 8508 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org