4th – 8th October is Back Care Awareness Week and the theme is ‘Spending More Time at Home’.
Back pain affects half of the adult population every month and almost 80% of people at some point in their lives. It’s accountable for more than 12 million lost work days in the UK each year. However, the injuries behind back pain are often avoidable. Back care awareness is important for all of us, regardless of age or whether we are studying, working or simply enjoying leisure time.
What Does Your Back Do?
The spine is one of the most important structures in the body. It helps to keep you upright, supports your entire body and allows a range of different movements. Almost every task we complete daily involves moving our backs. A healthy spine prefers regular movement to static positions, and likes frequent changes of position as opposed to repetitive actions.
Causes of Back Pain and Injury
There are many different causes of back pain ranging from acute injury to degenerative conditions. Back pain can range in intensity from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp or shooting pain. Most back pain is caused by sprains, strains, lack of physical activity and posture problems rather than spinal damage or other health conditions.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
There are many reasons why we may be spending more time at home, be it for work, study or leisure. It’s important is that we protect our spine, the very structure that supports us. The leading charity Backcare.org.uk has developed practical tips and advice to support prevention of back pain, which includes:
- A health posture and what we need to consider.
- The power of movement to ensure our muscles are used and not overtired.
- Hydration for our overall wellbeing and intervertebral discs.
- Nutrition, for our bones and muscles.
- Exercise, including examples and diagrams of exercises to do at home.
- Core Stability.
Are you Currently Experiencing Back Pain?
If you experience back pain we recommend:
- You may need to and want to rest as this reduces your pain, but we do encourage you to keep moving, even if smaller movements for less time. This ensures the joints and muscles are being used and supports blood flow to the area.
- If acute, that is the pain has suddenly come on, then ice for 10 mins (2-3 times that day). After that people find a heat pack can help, for 10 mins as required. https://backcare.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/106-Hot-Cold.pdf
- You may want consider pain medication. Speak to your pharmacist or GP about what is most appropriate.
- Gentle stretches can provide relief and support movement.
In many cases, a new or flare-up of a long-standing back problem should begin to settle within a few days to a week. However, if the problem persists then you may wish to seek healthcare advice. You can discuss this with an osteopath and/or speak to your GP.
NOTE: If you experience severe symptoms that are causing numbness, weakness in your legs with any associated bowel or bladder issues then please urgently speak to your GP or call 111.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. We hope you find it interesting and helpful.
This article was written by Melissa Thorpe one of our Registered Osteopaths.