Back pain will affect around 80 per cent of British adults throughout their lifetime, but despite this, many Brits still seem unsure how best to treat their pain. I see patients every week who share their strange stories about how they've tried to cure their back pain or why they think it is they're suffering in the first place.
Conversations with fellow chiropractors tell a similar story. The 'back pain cures' they've heard range from slightly amusing to potentially dangerous. For example, some patients have admitted to asking their children to jump on their backs, hanging from pieces of furniture and walking down the stairs backwards. More than one chiropractor has mentioned to me that a patient had used industrial lubricant spray WD40 for their limbs to help aches and pains!
While some of these may seem amusing, there is a really serious message here. If people don't know enough about what causes back pain or how best to treat it they could not only delay their recovery but potentially aggravate their problem.
New research by the British Chiropractic Association has also highlighted a lack of awareness around the causes, preventive measures and best treatment for back pain.
Findings from a recent survey revealed that half of Brits believe that you should always rest a bad back, whereas in fact moderate activity is usually the best idea. While total rest may seem like a good way to recover, often continuing moderate physical activity will help in the long run. I usually recommend patients keep moving gently (as long as it not aggravating their pain) to help speed up their recovery and prevent longer term issues.
Additionally, two fifths believe back or neck pain is simply part of the ageing process and many people aren't aware that simply keeping well hydrated could help back pain.
This BackCare Awareness Week we want to try and bust some of the common myths and misconceptions around back and neck pain to help prevent further pain:
- Back or neck pain is simply part of the ageing process: While ageing can have an impact on your back health, back or neck pain can occur at any age. Maintaining good health into later years and being aware of how to preserve one of our body's most important assets, the back, is important in allowing us to maintain activity levels. The BCA has advice on how to protect your back at any age.
- The spine can be injured easily: The spine is actually one of the strongest parts of your body and is designed to be strong. Like any other part of your body though, taking good care of it is essential to allow it to do its job effectively for as long as possible.
- A slipped disc means a disc has slipped out of your spine: The discs are circular pads of connective tissue - cartilage - in between each vertebra in your back. These discs have an inner gel-like substance and a tough outer case. They help maintain your back's flexibility and wide range of movement. A slipped disc means that one of the discs of cartilage in the spine is probably bulging and possibly extruding, irritating or pressing on the nerves. It can also be known as a prolapsed or herniated disc. [NHS Choices]
- Pain killers can cure back pain: Most back pain is 'mechanical' in nature so, even though painkillers can be helpful, some sort of mechanical, hands on treatment involving movement/ exercise is more likely to help manage the problem and reduce recurrence.
However, if you do experience pain for more than a few days I recommend you seek professional help as an undiagnosed problem could lead to longer-term problems if left untreated. To find out where your local chiropractor is, please visit www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk and use the Find a Chiropractor feature.