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Brooks Chiropractic, Bourne End, Maidenhead, Marlow

Back Pain

Back Pain

Back pain is extremely common, and most people have or will suffer with back pain at some point in their lives. A study in 2020 found that “Globally, LBP (lower back pain) is the leading global cause of YLDs (years of healthy life lost due to disability). Greater attention is urgently needed to mitigate this increasing burden and the impact it is having on health and social systems.”

These problems can be caused by a variety of things which include but are not limited to, being sedentary, having poor posture, a traumatic injury, over exertion, poor biomechanical patterns, and poor lifting technique. Lower back pain can be very debilitating but is usually not anything too serious, however, the sooner the condition is treated the better, this means that the inflammation and resulting compensation will have less time to affect the surrounding structures and will make it easier to treat.

Managing back pain can be tricky sometime but by keeping mobile, maintaining good posture, exercising, maintaining a balanced diet and keeping hydrated you can give yourself the best chance. Sometimes this isn’t enough and further treatment is needed. Chiropractic is a safe, natural and effective way to treat back pain.

Back Pain Symptoms

Back pain can produce a wide variety of symptoms and sensations and sometimes similar problems can have hugely differing presentations. This is due to the complex nature of the structures within. Our spinal cord (through which all systems of the body communicate) runs through the middle of our spine, and this is why back pain will sometimes be accompanied by pain or neurological symptoms down the arms and legs. Stress placed on the nervous system can also affect any system of the body.

There are also lots of muscles and joints throughout, which can all be affected by how we use them. Which is why posture and exercise are so important! When things go wrong people usually experience aches, pains, stiffness, or neurological symptoms such as pins and needles and/or numbness. Each of these could distinguish between certain problems, which is why chiropractors take such detailed medical histories and perform specialised tests.

Pain can be categorised by its duration and its presentation. Generally, is either Episodic (comes and goes), Constant or Circumstantial (has predictable triggers). It can then be further categorised by duration into Acute (<1 month), Sub-Acute, (1-2 months), and Chronic (>3 months). The longer a problem has been there the more the body will have adapted in order to cope with it, this is called compensation. It is never too late to seek treatment (and often chronic patients are our favourite) but the sooner you seek help the less compensation there will be to overcome.

As chiropractors we aim to restore the normal function of the body to allow your body to heal naturally. Once we have got you out of pain, we then aim to rehabilitate you to avoid relapse or re-injury.

Things to try at home

There are some things we can do in our lives to give our backs the best chance of staying healthy. As we tell our patients, ‘we’re up against it’. Our lifestyles don’t promote a healthy spine, we are typically too sedentary, too overweight, and spend too much time at our desks and on our phones.

Proactive steps must be made to maintain your health. That being said, here are 5 things you can do at home.

Taking regular breaks is vital to allow structures time to rest and recover. Whilst we are sat or stood in the same position for hours at a time, we are using the same sets of muscles and putting stress through the same joints. These structures aren’t designed to be working for hours at a time, and without rest and recovery they can develop problems like hypertonicity (tightness), repetitive strain injuries, and early onset arthritis which can all lead to inflammation and then pain. We know it is all too easy to get wrapped up in your work and before you know it, it’s lunch and you haven’t moved all morning. Try to take a break every 45 minutes, go up and down the stairs a few times, roll the shoulders, do some squats, and get the blood pumping through those legs and you’ll be surprised how much difference this can have on your back.

Regular exercise can be great for relieving back pain. Taking up a sport is a great way to do some exercise but it not feel like a chore. Jogging, cycling, and squash are all good activities for any ability level and great for our hearts, muscles, and joints. More gentle activities are also great and include yoga, pilates, and tai chi. Not only is regular exercise good for our physical health but also our mental health.

If you aren’t able to do these or don’t feel up to the task, then walking is also great to keep things moving.

Any position in which we spend a lot of time, whether it be at our desks, in our car or on our feet should be done so with correct posture. Any change to optimal posture subjects the muscles, joints and soft tissues to increased stress. This stress can then develop into problems. Posture is a habit, and as such takes time and effort to implement. Try to be mindful of the position you are in and think if you could improve it in any way. Some common issues include, the head and shoulders being too far forward (rounded), not sitting in the back of our seats (slouching), and spending too long looking down at our phones (text neck).

Staying adequately hydrated can have an astounding effect on our bodies. They use water for almost every chemical process and by being optimally hydrated it allows all of these processes to work at maximum efficiency, effecting things like energy levels, sleep quality, skin condition, digestion and more. It can also lead to less inflammation in the muscles which in turn can help with back pain. It’s also important to maintain a balanced diet containing lots of fruit and veg. There is research to suggest that consuming food with natural anti-inflammatory properties such as turmeric, oily fish and berries have several health benefits.

We give out stretches to almost all of our patients suffering from back pain, all of which can be done at home. Click here to watch this short video to find out which stretches can help!

Lower body stretches for back pain