Sunday, March 4, 2018
Back pain is a common problem affecting a lot of people in the UK, and while it isn't always serious, it can be uncomfortable and interfere with daily life. Here we take a look at what the common causes of back pain are and how to overcome them.
It can be hard to identify the root of back pain as a lot of back pain is categorised as non-specific, with no clear cause for the pain. However, the other type of back pain, known as mechanical back pain, is pain that radiates from a certain point, which might alert you to the cause of it.
Back pain can be caused by a range of issues some of which include poor posture, lifting something wrong and a pulled muscle. However, some experience back pain for no obvious reason at all, while others experience it when they are feeling stressed out or run down.
Medical conditions can also be the cause of back pain, and these include, a slipped disc pressing on a nerve, sciatica which causes pain and tingling from the lower back down to the feet, and spondylolisthesis which is a bone in the spine slipping out of position.
Back pain typically goes away with time however there are some things you can do to try and speed up the healing process and reduce your pain a little sooner.
- Keeping active - although it can be tempting to stay in bed and rest with little mobility, it might actually be making your pain worse in the long-run. Try to carry on with your daily routine, and stay active.
- Pain relief medication - Over the counter medicines may be able to help to relieve pain and swelling, such as ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatories. A pharmacist will be able to advise on what is best for you.
- Gentle exercise - if you are struggling with lower back pain, certain stretches in yoga and pilates may help you to relieve stiffness and tension quicker. Swimming can also help as it's a relatively low impact movement, along with walking.
- Hot and cold packs - Some people find that back pain can be dealt with temporarily by the use of a hot water bottle, or by the use of a cold compression pack. You can try both and see which works best for you, or alternate between hot and cold.
While there are steps you can take towards relieving back pain, there are also things you can do to try and reduce the risk of a flare up, and these include:
- Staying active - keeping active is a big part of prevention, and this also includes avoiding sitting for long periods of time. If you find yourself sitting for too long at work, take a break and walk around the office every so often.
- Posture - being mindful of your posture is important, as this can cause a huge strain on your back if you are sitting incorrectly all day.
- Heavy lifting - if you find yourself lifting things regularly, take care in how you do it, and be sure to lift correctly in order to reduce the risk of sprain or injury.
- Your mattress - being supported properly at night is important, so check to make sure your mattress is still in good shape and offering you the crucial support you need.
Back pain tends to improve on it's own within a few weeks but if you find you are not improving be sure to see a doctor. If you find that the pain is very severe, is affecting your daily life, or isn't going away on it's own, seek advice from your GP as they will be able to advise you on possible treatment options, and suggest any additional help.