Osteopaths' Secrets to Treating and Preventing Back Pain
Back pain causes business to lose millions of working days every year. If you're one of the thousands of people affected by back pain, this will come as no surprise. But what do you do if you are one of those suffering?
Often people see their doctor first and are prescribed pain killers. The doctor should ask about the history, nature and area of your pain. What might have caused it, if it causes pain in your legs or is worse at any particular time.
Your doctor may also refer you to a physio/physical therapist who can also assess and help.
However, what can you do in the meantime to help yourself? Osteopaths recommend the following:
For chronic back pain - see here:
- Back Pain? Three Positions That May Change It All
New or old back pain? Three simple tweaks in your daily life could make a world of difference!
Osteopaths' Top Back Pain Tips
- When back pain starts, look for professional help sooner rather than later. Leaving it for too long, hoping that things will improve on their own, may mean that the muscles stiffen up, that you compensate by walking or moving unnaturally and this can compound the problem.
- Regular exercise will help a bad back if you know that's your body's weak point. An osteopath or physio will be able to advise you on which exercises are best for you and your problem and these will get you moving correctly and aim to prevent future problems.
- Look to your environment for causes. Adjust your driving seat so that it's comfortable and take regular breaks on long trips.
- If you do repetative tasks, change the rhythm and pace of your work, take regular breaks and pace yourself.
- Do you spend a long time sitting in an office chair that could be causing the problem? Use a foot rest if necessary and if there is an expert who can assess your posture, make use of them. Get up, stretch and walk around regularly.
- If you carry a purse/bag, could this be the problem? If it's too heavy or carried over one shoulder all the time this may affect how you walk and lead to back pain. Lighten the load and carry only what you really need to. Look at the loads and bag styles children use too. A rucksack (carried over both shoulders) is better than a bag carried over one shoulder.
- What about your bed? Buy the best mattress you can afford - after all we spend 1/3 of our lives in bed so it should be a good one. Tempur mattresses and pillows are space age technology and give superb support and alignment of the spine. And better quality sleep.
- Make sure you're in the right position when lifting objects - even something as silly as a piece of paper from the floor. It could be the thing that upsets your back. Get right up close to the object, bend from the knees and push up through your legs as you stand up, keeping the object as close to you as possible. Your thigh muscles are much stronger than your back muscles and bending from the waist and lifting that way puts too much strain on the back. If in doubt, ask someone to help you, don't lift at all or use a mechanical lift. Don't be in a position to regret your lifting manoeuvre!
- Take extra care during pregnancy as the extra hormones make a woman's ligaments looser. If you know you have a weak back, take advice from a physical/physiotherapist or osteopath.
- When taking pain killers, follow the instructions on the pack. Drugs containing ibuprofen, aspirin or any other non-steroidal anti inflammatory drug (NSAID) should be taken with food to protect the lining of the stomach. Be careful with these drugs if you have asthma as in some people they can provoke an attack. Don't take more than 8 paracetamol in 24 hours and take them 4 hours apart.
Back problems can be life long, so taking care and taking professional advice will help you stay moving freely and comfortably.