Dealing with recurrent back pain

If you are getting recurrent back trouble what can you do to help yourself and sort the problem out? Back pain usually goes away in a week or two at most but for four out of five people, however, it keeps on coming back.  In a recent study published in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, 70-80% of back sufferers were still having pain a year later in spite of receiving treatment.

Brighton Chiropractors Give Three Tips to Prevent Recurrent Back Pain

1 Stay Active

This is counter-intuitive as the temptation is to take it easy. Most people are afraid of moving about in case they make the problem worse and prolong the agony. This, however, is exactly the wrong thing to do.  It is OK to rest for a day two or three days but after that doing gentle exercise is actually helpful even if is sore doing it or for a while afterwards. Walking, swimming, cycling, Pilates or yoga can all be a helpful start. Gradually increasing the intensity of the exercise as your muscles and joints get used the restored function is a helpful way to prevent recurrences. Our Exercise Video Programme is here.

2 Avoid aggravating activities

If your back goes bending over to tie your shoe laces or getting out of the car, the chances are that this activity is not the cause of the pain but rather the trigger factor. It is unlikely that something you have done hundreds of times before would suddenly become a problem without a change in the underlying condition of your back. A gradual weakening of your back muscles due to lack of core muscle strength leads to stress on the spinal joints which gradually stiffen and can eventually sprain.

There are certain activities that can often aggravate your back. These include prolonged sitting, lifting badly with your knees straight or lifting and twisting. Certain specific tasks can cause stresses on back joints and muscles like hoovering or gardening and you probably recognise what these are for you. Sometimes doing the activity for a brief period is okay but doing it for a prolonged period brings the pain on. It is helpful to start the activity gently, gradually increasing the effort you put in to it and then finishing with a few back stretches.

It is also worth noting when the pain comes on. If the back ache is worse in bed it could be an old sagging mattress that is not supporting your spine. If your back is stiff after sitting in low sofa for an evening then perhaps this is the culprit. These are obvious potential causes of back strain but our lifestyle is jammed full of hidden causes of back pain. A car with offset pedals or steering wheel twists the spine on every journey for instance.  A computer monitor off to one side has the same effect. Even baby care has its own hazards. Bending over a changing mat or putting a baby in a car seat is a potential back strain in the making. If you do a lot of work at a desk there are tips to set up your desk and chair here.

3 Get regular check-ups from a back specialist

If getting a fistful of anti-inflammatory drugs from the GP doesn’t help resolve your back pain quickly then you might choose not to wait for referral to the local physio department. Currently the national average waiting time is twelve weeks by which time, if you are still getting pain, it is becoming chronic. If it does resolve the chances are that it will recur in a few months or a year or two.  There are other options for back care though.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the government body that recommends the best treatments for all sorts of conditions says that manipulation from a chiropractor, osteopath or specialist physiotherapist should be part of effective care for back pain. A short course of treatment will often restore strength and flexibility to the back allowing you to get back to full activity. Once you have the initial problem under control and the pain has resolved there is some evidence that a periodic session of treatment can help prevent back pain from recurring.

Back pain can limit what exercise and activities you are able to do but with the right approach you can get rid of the problem and carry on as normal. These straightforward steps will help you get better.

If you want to find out if we can help you – call for a free check-up.

For more information look at our Treatment and Fees FAQ’s


Sundial Clinics, Brighton's favourite chiropractic, physiotherapy and massage clinicsFor better backs, shoulders, knees and necks

Serving Brighton, Hove and the surrounding areas

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