Oh my aching back!

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Experiencing back pain is extremely common but can really cause havoc for us in day to day life, especially if we have difficulty with everyday tasks such as sitting at work or getting a good night’s sleep. It can often feel worse if we have associated symptoms such as leg pain or tingling and numbness. In most cases, we can significantly improve our back pain by considering a few simple ways and in only a small number of cases are the underlying causes of back pain related to serious pathology so, rest assured, in most instances, your back pain will significantly improve…

Firstly, research tells us that the best way to manage and/or resolve back pain is to exercise regularly and move often. It may feel like the last thing you want to do is move, but try to introduce some activity/movement into your day, every 30-60 minutes. Try a short walk around the office or outside during breaks. Perhaps take the stairs instead of using the lift. Introduce variety in your work routine or daytime activities in order to break the monotony. For instance, complete printing or photocopying tasks intermittently rather than all at once. You could also go visit your colleague down the hall rather than sending them an email or picking up the phone. These simple adjustments offer your body an opportunity to move, which it likes. Very much. If remembering to move regularly is troublesome, set a reminder or alarm to prompt you to move.

‘Variety is the spice of life’ as the saying goes. Too much of any one thing can be problematic. For instance, gardening for a full day is more likely to aggravate back pain more than a couple of hours might. When exercising, make sure you include a varied routine. For example, regular walking, some swimming and regular pilates is likely to be more beneficial than just swimming. Keep it interesting for your body and it will feel (and look) better.

If you’re an office worker, make sure your workstation is set up properly. Visit the HSE website and download their free DSE Checklist and raise any outstanding issues with your line manager (hse.gov.uk). Pay attention to your posture too and try moving (or fidgeting!) intermittently. Regular, gentle movements oil and grease our joints and help keep our muscles more active.

It can also be helpful to take prescribed medication in order for you to remain more active. Avoiding taking medication can sometimes worsen or delay recovery. Speak to your GP or pharmacist about how to effectively manage your pain.

Using a heat or ice pack (or both) can also be beneficial, particularly if you’re experiencing muscle spasms. It’s important that you use a heat or ice pack safely – if you’re unsure about how, get in touch and we’ll be happy to advise you.

Finally, do your best to remain positive and cheery in yourself. Research tells us that people who worry excessively, those experiencing high levels of stress and/or people with anxiety and depression health issues are more likely to experience and report back pain. Their perceived level of pain and disability is also rated higher and may lead to a slower recovery overall. It’s like putting a magnifying glass over the physical problem – it enlarges the issue. Adopting a cognitive behavioural approach is considered to be one of the best ways to help people with mental health problems. Here at Plus Health Company, we integrate this approach into our treatment processes as a routine, but in some cases, you may require more specialised support.

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