Each year, one in three people will suffer with back pain. In most cases, you can manage this with painkillers and by taking simple steps to look after yourself at home.
Many cases of back pain are caused by weak core muscles and bad posture, so regular exercise, including daily stretching, will keep you strong and healthy.
Activities such as swimming and Pilates are popular as they help to keep your core strong, without putting additional strain on your joints. When you are struck with a bout of backache, avoid the temptation to just go to bed. Instead, try walking around at home, doing gentle stretches, and applying alternate hot and cold packs to relax the muscles.
If you sleep on your side, draw your legs up towards your chest and put a pillow between your legs to take any strain off your spine.
When these things don’t help, it may be time to consult a specialist. Not quite sure who to go to for help? Then read on…

Physiotherapy

This practice will treat your back pain to restore your movement and function. Your physiotherapist may use a range of techniques, including manipulation to restore movement and a range of exercises that you can do at home.
If you see a physiotherapist quickly, it will help you with a speedy recovery and can teach you techniques that will help to prevent the problem happening again.
At your first appointment, your physiotherapist will probably check that you don’t have any serious underlying health problems that could be connected to your back problem.
He will then be able to find a reason for your pain and look at ways to help you and prevent further problems. He might ask you to walk around and perform some exercises so that he can work out the best treatment plan for you.

WHAT TO EXPECT
If you have a mild back problem, you might just need to seek advice on what you should or shouldn’t be doing, which will mean you only need one or two sessions.
At the other end of the scale, if you have a condition that has been present for some time, you might need treatment over a longer period to make sure you get full rehabilitation.
Any physiotherapy treatment you receive shouldn’t cause you more pain. In some cases you might experience slight discomfort after treatment but it should settle within a couple of days.
To find a qualified physiotherapist in your area, visit www.iprshealth.com. The physiotherapists will work with you to support your recovery and help you to return to your normal daily activites. IPRS Health also deals with other common sporting injuries.

Chiropractor

Chiropractors treat disorders of the bones, muscles and joints, with an emphasis on manipulation of the spine. Many chiropractors specialise in back and neck problems specifically. During your initial consultation, your practitioner will ask about your history, and do a physical exam which includes things like checking blood pressure, pulse and the range of motion and muscle strength in your back.
Some chiropractors will begin treatment during your first visit after they have assessed you fully.
Your chiropractor will use their hands to apply force to the muscle, bones and joints in and around your spine. It should not be painful and if you have any severe discomfort, tell your chiropractor immediately.

WHAT TO EXPECT
A lot of people decide to visit their chiropractor for routine maintenance to prevent problems; or you may only go when pain becomes an issue.
Short-term goals from your chiropractor will include reducing your pain, while long-term goals will look at being able to tolerate everyday activities. They might also offer you advice on diet, exercise and lifestyle, as well as a rehabilitation programme that involves exercises to do in your own time between appointments.
Seeing a chiropractor on the NHS can involve long waiting lists, which is why most people tend to visit privately, which will cost £30-£45 per session, or this may be covered in a health cash plan if you have one.
Visit the British Chiropractors Directory (www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk) for a chiropractor in your area.

 

POSTURE POINTERS
Back pain is a common problem and will affect four out of five people at some point. Causes may include poor posture, lack of exercise and muscle strains or sprains...

Osteopathy

Osteopaths use physical manipulation, stretching and massaging to increase mobility, enhance blood supply to tissue and help the body to heal without using drugs or surgery. Your first appointment will last about 45 minutes to allow your osteopath to take all the information that they need about your general health and previous treatments. They’ll also examine you and it’s likely they’ll ask you to take off your clothes so they can look at your spine properly, so wear leggings or long shorts to make it easier for them to examine you.

WHAT TO EXPECT
Your therapist can use a range of treatments depending on your age, fitness and diagnosis. They may gently massage the soft tissues of your back and rock the joints to release tension as well as gently manipulating the back in order to loosen and ‘click’ the joints. Because of the physical nature of the treatment, it is not unusual to feel sore in the first 24 to 48 hours afterwards.
Treatment is different for every individual and sometimes it might involve treating other areas in the body, such as the hips or neck.
How many sessions you’ll need also depends on a number of factors, including how long you’ve had your problem. Recent issues can usually be sorted in less than three sessions. For long-standing problems you’ll need more, but in almost all cases osteopaths don’t need more than nine sessions to complete treatment.
Osteopathy isn’t widely available on the NHS but your GP should be able to tell you whether it’s available in your area. Private sessions average £30 to £50 an hour. Check the General Osteopathic Council (www.osteopathy.org.uk) website to ensure your osteopath is registered.

Images: Shutterstock

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