Low back pain
Keeping your back strong and supple is the best way to avoid getting back pain. Regular exercise, maintaining good posture and lifting correctly will all help.
If you have recurring back pain, the following advice may be useful:
Exercise is both an excellent way of preventing back pain and of reducing it, but should seek medical advice before starting an exercise programme if you've had back pain for six weeks or more.
Exercises such as walking or swimming strengthen the muscles that support your back without putting any strain on it or subjecting it to a sudden jolt.
Activities such as yoga or pilates can improve the flexibility and the strength of your back muscles. It's important that you carry out these activities under the guidance of a properly qualified instructor.
Below are some simple exercises you can do several times a day at home to help prevent or relieve back pain.
Stop these exercises immediately if they make your pain worse.
How you sit, stand and lie down can have an important effect on your back. The following tips should help you maintain a good posture.
Stand upright, with your head facing forward and your back straight. Balance your weight evenly on both feet and keep your legs straight.
Make sure you sit upright with support in the small of your back. Your knees and hips should be level and your feet should be flat on the floor (use a footstool if necessary). Some people find it useful to use a small cushion or rolled-up towel to support the small of the back.
If you use a keyboard, make sure that your forearms are horizontal and your elbows are at right angles.
Correctly positioning your wing mirrors will prevent you from having to twist around. Your foot controls should be squarely in front of your feet.
If you are driving long distances, take regular breaks so you can stretch your legs.
Your mattress should be firm enough to support your body while supporting the weight of your shoulders and buttocks, keeping your spine straight.
If your mattress is too soft, place a firm board (ideally 2cm thick) on top of the base of your bed and under the mattress. Your head should be supported with a pillow, but make sure your neck is not forced up at a steep angle.
One of the biggest causes of back injury, particularly at work, is lifting or handling objects incorrectly. Learning and following the correct method for lifting and handling objects can help prevent back pain. You should:
If your child needs to carry a bag to school, they should use a well-designed backpack that is worn over both shoulders. Avoid putting anything unnecessary in their bag to keep the weight to a minimum.
Back pain is a common problem that affects most people at some point in their life. It may be triggered by bad posture while sitting or standing, bending awkwardly, or lifting incorrectly.
You should seek urgent medical help if you have back pain and a high temperature (fever), unexplained weight loss, a swelling or a deformity in your back, it's constant and doesn't ease after lying down, etc.
Your back is a complex structure made up of bones, muscles, nerves and joints. This can often make it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the pain.
Most cases of back pain do not require medical attention and can be treated with over-the-counter painkillers and self-care. However, you should visit your GP if you are worried about your condition or struggling to cope with the pain.
Treatments for back pain vary depending on how long you have had the pain, how severe it is, and your individual needs and preferences. Initially, back pain is usually treated with over-the-counter painkillers and home treatments.
There are some simple back exercises and stretches you can do at home to help ease lower back pain and improve your strength and flexibility.
Keeping your back strong and supple is the best way to avoid getting back pain. Regular exercise, maintaining good posture and lifting correctly will all help. How you sit, stand and lie down can have an important effect on your back.
Back pain was agony for Anne Parker from Berkshire, but thanks to the right diagnosis shes now walking tall. My bad back started 12 years ago with pains in my right buttock. When I saw my GP, he said the problem was actually my back,and he gave me painkillers.
Kiran Mohan tells his story about his struggle with back pain. "My back problems started in 1999 when I developed a severe pain in the heel of one of my feet, which gradually progressed to the other foot." he says.