Lower back pain is one of the most common health complaints in the UK, with an estimated 28 million people suffering from it at any given time. Over the past decade, lower back pain has become increasingly prevalent in the UK, with a recent survey finding that up to 40% of adults experience some form of lower back pain each year. The prevalence of lower back pain varies by age, with the highest rates reported among those aged between 45 and 64 years old.
Despite lower back pain being very common, the good news is that it usually improves within a few weeks with conservative treatment, including osteopathy for lower back pain, physiotherapy and acupuncture.
It can take longer for it to go, and it can recur. That’s why we go to great lengths to go beyond patching you up with pain relief and fix the underlying drivers of your symptoms so that when it’s gone, it’s gone, and you can get your life back!
What causes lower back pain?
As a common condition, lower back pain may have many different causes. However, some of the most common causes of lower back pain include muscle strain, poor posture, injury or trauma, arthritis, and disc degeneration.
- Poor posture and prolonged sitting can cause muscles to become tight and weak, leading to strain and discomfort.
- Injury or trauma, such as a fall or a car accident, can also lead to lower back pain.
- Arthritis can cause inflammation in the joints and surrounding tissues, leading to pain and stiffness in the lower back.
- Disc degeneration, which is caused by wear-and-tear on the discs between vertebrae, can also cause lower back pain.
- In some cases, the exact cause of lower back pain may not be known.
In addition, lower back pain also tends to be more common among people who are:
- overweight or obese
- have an occupation involving physical labour
- have a history of medical conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis
- lifestyle habits such as lack of exercise and inadequate sleep
- Stress, anxiety and depression
What are the Symptoms of Lower Back Pain?
Lower back pain symptoms can vary from person to person. Some get a dull pain in their back, while others may describe it as more of a burning or tearing pain. Sciatica, pain can spread from your buttock or back down your leg, sometimes as far reaching as your foot or toes.
- Pain, stiffness and tenderness in the lower back area
- Difficulty moving especially bending or twisting
- Difficulty standing up straight
- Difficulty standing or being still for prolonged periods
- Localised pain when pressing on the affected area
- Radiating pain that travels down the leg(s)
How can I relieve my lower back pain?
There are many things you can do to assist your back pain and recover faster. Most Importantly, try to keep active and remain positive about managing your pain.
Get moving – motion is the lotion! This may be the very last thing you feel like doing, and you may even believe that you shouldn’t be doing it. However, all the evidence points in the opposite direction. After 40 years of helping people with lower back pain, our ‘go to’ advice is don’t wait till you’re pain free; start straight away.
In most cases, keeping active and regular exercise can benefit individuals with back pain. Exercise helps to strengthen the muscles around the spine, which can help to reduce the risk of further injury and promote faster recovery.
In addition, research quoted in the Journal of Mental Health [Vol.14, 2005], clearly shows that regular exercise is a powerful source of ‘happy hormones’ which help us cope better with the inevitable stresses of life.
Stress, depression and anxiety are all strongly implicated as a cause of lower back pain as well as slowing down your recovery.
It’s important to note that starting gently and gradually increasing the intensity of exercise is crucial, as pushing yourself too hard too soon can exacerbate your back pain.
Choosing activities you enjoy is important, as this can make it easier to stick to an exercise routine. Good examples are walking, swimming and yoga. Do anything other than take to your bed or sit in a chair till the pain goes away – it won’t. It’ll get worse if you don’t start to move.
If you develop severe pain that you can’t cope with while exercising, you should stop and seek advice from your medical professional. You should always see a doctor if your symptoms include weakness or numbness in your legs.
Stay positive – The ability to recover from low back pain is closely linked to your emotional well-being and the strategies you employ to cope with the pain.
Engaging in activities and socialising with friends and family can help distract from pain and improve overall well-being.
Additionally, managing stress through techniques such as relaxation exercises, meditation, or talking to a counsellor can also help reduce the impact of emotional factors on back pain.
Getting enough sleep is also important, as sleep deprivation can increase pain sensitivity and make it harder to cope with chronic pain. Practising good sleep hygiene, such as establishing a consistent sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine, can help improve sleep quality.
Overall, a positive outlook, social support, stress management, and good sleep habits can help to promote a faster recovery from low back pain.
Pain relief – Start with applying heat or cold treatments to your back to relieve pain. (Ensure you protect your skin properly if you do) If you need additional help, ask your pharmacist for advice on what over the counter medication you can take.
If you take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) read the patient information leaflet and follow the guidance. Always aim to take them for a minimum period of time.
Treatment options for lower back pain
As yet, there is no clear-cut research as to which method provides the best results for treating musculoskeletal problems. Therefore the choice of practitioner is partly down to your preference and our advice as to your next step.
Prevention of lower back pain
Incorporating healthy habits into your daily routine can help to prevent back pain or reduce your risk of recurrence. Here are some tips:
- Get plenty of exercise: Regular exercise can help to strengthen your back muscles and improve flexibility, which can help prevent back pain. It’s important to choose exercises that you enjoy and that are safe for your individual fitness level.
- Take care with carrying and lifting heavy items: Use proper lifting techniques, such as bending your knees and keeping your back straight when lifting heavy objects. Avoid carrying objects that are too heavy for you to manage.
- Maintain good posture: Make sure your chair, desk, and computer screen are set up correctly if you work at a desk. This will help prevent strain on your back and neck muscles. If you sit for long periods of time, it’s important to take breaks and stretch regularly.
- Move regularly: Avoid sitting or standing in the same position for long periods of time. Take frequent breaks to stretch and move around, especially if you have a desk job.
By following these simple tips, you can help to prevent back pain and maintain a healthy spine. If you experience back pain or discomfort, it’s important to seek medical advice to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What happens during my initial consultation?
Our priority upon your arrival is to ensure that you feel welcome, comfortable, and well-informed about your appointment. Typically, your initial consultation will last between 45 minutes to an hour. One of our experienced osteopaths will meet you and begin by attentively listening to you. We will inquire about your general health, any current pain you may be experiencing, your medical history, medications you may be taking, and review any medical examination results.
After this initial discussion, we may conduct specific tests to make a diagnosis. You may be asked to perform some gentle movements to allow us to evaluate your posture and mobility.
Using this important information, we will then create a personalized treatment plan tailored specifically to your needs.
What will happen AFTER an initial consultation?
During your second visit to our clinic, we will provide a detailed explanation of our findings from your history and examination. By the end of this session, you will be able to answer several crucial questions, including:
- What is causing my symptoms?
- What are the available treatment options?
- How long is the expected recovery time?
- How much treatment will be necessary based on your personalized treatment plan?
- How much will your treatment cost?
- What can I do to help myself?
- What changes do I need to make to get better, faster?
We take the time to explain and clarify the causes of your symptoms and what can be done to alleviate them. At this stage, we will have created a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
What can I expect after my first treatment?
The response to treatment varies from person to person, as everyone is unique. The initial treatment is a crucial step in gauging the patient’s reaction to treatment and determining the best course of action to meet their individual needs.
Immediate relief may be experienced by some patients after the first session, while others may require multiple sessions to see significant progress. It’s vital for patients to realize that treatment is not a one-time fix and that it may take a number of sessions to achieve long-term results, particularly for chronic issues or long-standing musculoskeletal imbalances.
Is treatment painful?
The treatments themselves are not painful, but there might be some discomfort after the spinal manipulation as your body adjusts to the treatment and improved posture. This can result in stiffness in certain regions, which is a natural occurrence, and we recommend using an ice pack on the area for 10 minutes after your session and staying hydrated.
What causes the cracking sound during the treatment?
The cracking or popping sound heard during an osteopathic treatment is caused by the release of nitrogen gas from the joints. This is a normal and common occurrence and may not always happen depending on the technique used. The sound itself is neither significant or important to your progress.
What is the cost of the initial consultation?
The initial consultation is priced at £65, which comprises a thorough spinal evaluation including muscle and nerve testing, orthopaedic examination, as well as posture and movement analysis.
What is the cost of the each treatment?
Each treatment is £45 if you pay as you go. However, we do have discount options available depending on what works best for you.
What days and times are you open?
Monday – Friday 8am – 8pm,
Saturday – 8am – 2pm
Sunday – closed
How long will it take for me to feel better?
The length of time it will take to start to feel better varies a good deal between patients. This difference is based on several factors, including the how long you’ve had the problem and how severe it’s become, your lifestyle and demands of work and family as well as your individual capacity to respond to treatment.
Generally, patients with acute conditions (recent onset) may experience significant improvement within a few sessions, while those with chronic conditions (your symptoms have been present for more than 12 weeks) may require more treatment sessions to attain long-lasting outcomes.
The secrets to getting well are to always turn up for your treatment, follow the guidance of your practitioner and get involved in your own recovery. Don’t delegate your health to your practitioner. It is always a partnership!
What happens if I miss an appointment?
We recognize that we all have busy lives beyond the Backcare and Acupuncture Clinics, but please let us know as soon as possible if you are unable to keep your appointment, and we will make every effort to reschedule it for you. We will make every effort to accommodate your particular schedule