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10 Things You Need To Know About Your Back

Posted on 4th May 2017 by

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) have put together a great campaign, ’10 Things You Need To Know About Your Back’.

Back pain research constantly gives new insights into previously held beliefs. Their guide reflects these advances to give clear, simple advice on how to manage your pain and prevent future episodes.

Here’s the latest advice from the CSP:

  1. Your back is stronger than you may think Most people worldwide will experience back pain during their lifetime. It can be disabling and worrying but it is very common and rarely dangerous. The spine is a strong, stable structure and not easily damaged so in most instances it is a simple sprain or strain. In these cases – 98 per cent, according to research – people recover reasonably quickly, and many do so without treatment. Some people experience repeat episodes, which can be distressing, but again these are rarely dangerous.
  2. You rarely need a scan and it can do more harm than good
    This is because seeing perfectly normal changes to their spine can cause people to avoid the activities they should be doing to get better, such as exercise and movement in general. In very rare cases, there may be something more serious or underlying that requires medical advice. A scan may help with your diagnosis and symptoms to be aware of are at the bottom of this page. However, these account for just two per cent of cases so if your physio or GP does not send you for one, you should take it as a good sign that there is nothing concerning going on.
  3. Avoid bed rest, stay in work and gradually resume normal activities
    Scientific studies now indicate prolonged rest and avoidance of activity for people with low back pain actually leads to higher levels of pain, greater disability, poorer recovery and longer absence from work. In the first few days of a new episode of low back pain, avoiding aggravating activities may help to relive pain. However, staying as active as possible and returning to all usual activities gradually is actually important in aiding recovery – this includes staying in work where possible. While it is normal to move differently and more slowly in the first few days of having back pain, this altered movement can be unhealthy if continued in the long-term.
  4. You should not fear bending or lifting
    Bending and lifting are often portrayed as causes of back pain and while an injury can occur if something is picked up in an awkward or unaccustomed way, it’s most likely to just be a sprain or strain. The important thing is to practice and get your body used to carrying different loads and weights in a way we find comfortable and efficient. We all run differently, and it’s perfectly normal for us to find our own technique for lifting.
  5. Exercise and activity reduce and prevent back pain
    Exercise is shown to be very helpful for tackling back pain and is also the most effective strategy to prevent future episodes. Start slowly and build up both the amount and intensity of what you do and don’t worry if it’s sore to begin with – you won’t be damaging your back. No one type of exercise is proven to be more effective than others so just pick an exercise you enjoy, that you can afford to maintain in the long-term and that fits in with your daily schedule.
  6. Painkillers will not speed up your recovery
    There is no strong evidence on the benefits of painkillers and they do not speed up recovery. They should only be used in conjunction with other measures, such as exercise, and even then just as a short-term option as they can bring side effects. Exercise, which is safer and cheaper, is considered the preferred option.
  7. Surgery is rarely needed
    There are some uncommon back conditions where there is pressure on the nerves that supply the legs and the patient gets leg symptoms, such as pain, pins and needles or numbness. For these conditions, surgery can help the leg symptoms but it is important to understand that it is not always required. You also need to know that on average, the results for back surgery are no better in the medium and long term than non-surgical interventions, such as exercise. So a non-surgical option, which includes exercise and activity, should always come first.
  8. Get good quality sleep
    The importance of sleep in tackling back pain has become increasingly clear in recent years. This is because it reduces stress and improves your overall feeling of wellbeing, making you less susceptible to the triggers of pain in the first instance and helping you to cope when it does occur. Aim for 7.5-8 hours a night and try to aim for a regular routine, as far as possible. It is also very important to know that there is no best position or type of mattress – whatever feels most comfortable for you is best.
  9. You can have back pain without any damage or injury
    Many physical or psychological factors can cause back pain and often a combination of these are involved. Many factors can cause back pain and often a combination of these are involved. They could be– Physical factors, such as ‘protecting’ the back and avoiding movements, or a simple strain.
    – Psychological factors, including a fear of damage or not getting better, feeling down or being stressed.
    – More general health and lifestyle factors, like being tired and rundown, not getting enough good quality sleep, being overweight or not getting enough physical activity
    – Social triggers, such as difficult relationships at work or home, low job satisfaction or stressful life events, like a family death or illness. Crucially, it’s important to know that all pain is 100 per cent real and never ‘all in your head’, even when factors like stress or mood are involved. Each of the factors can turn up the volume on your pain and gaining a greater understanding of when that can happen puts you in a stronger position to recognise them and learn how to turn down the dial again.
  10. If it doesn’t clear up, seek help but don’t worry Physiotherapists provide expert advice, guidance and treatment for back pain. This is to help reduce your chances of future episodes, while improving your overall health and well-being.

At goPhysio, we offer a range of services to help you manage your back pain. 

Physiotherapy – If you want reassurance and help to become more confident with your back, physiotherapy can help. We can provide expert guidance and treatment for your back pain, tailored to you and your lifestyle. You can book an appointment online or give us a call on 023 8025 3317.

Clinical Pilates – Our specialist Pilates classes are a great way to keep you strong and active. They focus on building strength and flexibility and being able to move well. The classes are small and you will be under the close supervision of one of our Therapists at all times. We run 17 classes a week, including evenings and weekends, at a variety of levels, so it’s easy to find a class to suit you. Have a look at our latest timetable.

Rehabilitation – Our rehabilitation service puts into practice the latest, evidence based management for conditions such as back pain. Using a huge range of exercises and equipment, all under the guidance and support of our Clinicians, you will have a tailor made programme put together to help you get strong and physically resilient! It’s a bit like Clinical Personal Training! The great thing is, that it’s personal to you and your condition but you can be confident you are doing the right exercises, in a fun and welcoming environment. Find out more here.

Symptoms to be aware of:

These symptoms are very rare but you should contact a doctor if you experience any of them:

  • Difficulty passing urine or having the sensation to pass water that is not there
  • Numbness/tingling in your genitals or buttocks area
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Impaired sexual function, such as loss of sensation during intercourse
  • Loss of power in your legs
  • Feeling unwell with your back pain, such as a fever or significant sweating that wakes you from sleep

Read More:

Low back pain and sciatica, the latest NICE guidelines

Help, I’ve got back pain! What should I do?

Back Pain Myths


 

 


Back Pain Myth 3 – A scan will tell me exactly what’s wrong

Posted on 12th September 2016 by

To coincide with World Physiotherapy Day, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) have produced a series of evidence based myth busters to tackle the common myths surrounding back pain.

The CSP are busting myths about back pain and reinforcing what the latest evidence says is best for your back.

Back Pain Myth 3 – A scan will tell me exactly what’s wrong

There is a large and growing body of research that shows that not only do results of scans correlate poorly with symptoms in people with Low Back Pain, but also that most people without Low Back Pain have changes on scans and x-rays that do not cause any symptoms at all.

For these reasons and more, imaging alone isn’t capable of telling us exactly why someone is experiencing pain.

Of course this does not mean that all MRI scans are irrelevant in all cases, but it does mean that they are not always necessary or helpful. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that in some cases, having a scan can make situations worse.

Myth Busters Back Pain 3


References

Teraguchi et al, (2013) Prevalence and distribution of intervertebral disc degeneration over the entire spine in a population-based cohort: the Wakayama Spine Study.

Videman et al, (2003) Associations Between Back Pain History and Lumbar MRI Findings
Cheung et al, (2009) Prevalence and Pattern of Lumbar Magnetic Resonance Imaging Changes in a Population Study of One Thousand Forty-Three Individuals.

Endcan et al, (2011) Potential of MRI findings to refine case definition for mechanical low back pain in epidemiological studies: a systematic review.

Brinjikji et al, (2015) MRI Findings of Disc Degeneration are More Prevalent in Adults with Low Back Pain than in Asymptomatic Controls: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Webster et al, (2010) Relationship of early magnetic resonance imaging for work-related acute low back pain with disability and medical utilization outcomes.


Back Pain Myth 2 – I should avoid exercise, especially weight training

Posted on 9th September 2016 by

With back pain affecting so many people, The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) have produced a series of evidence based, myth busters to tackle the common myths surrounding back pain.

The CSP are busting myths about back pain and reinforcing what the latest evidence says is best for your back.

Myth 2 – I should avoid exercise, especially weight training

Exercise is generally accepted amongst all respected authorities to be the best modality for treating low back pain, in both the acute and chronic phases.

Studies have shown great benefits and long-term safety of various types of exercises, including high load resistance training.

Interestingly, according to research, no one type of exercise proves to be better or worse, so simply do what you enjoy and can tolerate! Gradually build up as your confidence and ability improves.

If you’re not feeling confident about exercising with or when you’re recovering from or had back pain, we provide additional support through services like our Exercise Based Rehab, where you work on a specific exercise programme designed for your individual needs and goals. We also have the option of our Physio led Clinical Pilates classes, which are an excellent way of both recovering from or preventing back pain.

#StrongerForLonger

Back pain myth


References

O’Sullivan and Lin (2014) Acute low back pain Beyond drug therapies; Pain Management Today, Volume 1, Number 1.

Steele et al (2015) A Review of the Clinical Value of Isolated Lumbar Extension Resistance Training for Chronic Low Back Pain; American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Volume 7, Issue 2, Pages 169–187.

Searle et al (2015) Exercise interventions for the treatment of chronic low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials; Clinical Rehabilitation 2015, Vol. 29(12) 1155 –1167.

Bjorn et al (2015) Individualized Low-Load Motor Control Exercises and Education Versus a High-Load Lifting Exercise and Education to Improve Activity, Pain Intensity, and Physical Performance in Patients With Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial; Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, Volume:45 Issue:2 Pages:77-85.

Pieber et al (2014) Long-term effects of an outpatient rehabilitation program in patients with chronic recurrent low back pain; Eur Spine J 23:779–785.

Vincent et al (2014) Resistance Exercise, Disability, and Pain Catastrophizing in Obese Adults with Back Pain; Med Sci Sports Exerc. 46(9): 1693–170.

Smith et al (2014) An update of stabilisation exercises for low back pain: a systematic review with meta-analysis. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 15:416 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2474-15-416

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