Managing back pain
Although prevention of back pain and its reoccurrence ( back pain often comes and goes) is important, managing the pain when it does strike is just as crucial to speeding up your recovery.
There are many things you can do to manage your back pain without specialist medical treatment and by following the tips below, you'll probably find that you are perfectly able to cope with your pain and will most likely recover quickly.
Although you may feel like sitting still or even going to bed when back pain strikes, such inactivity will only lengthen your back pain episode of. Your best option is to stay active as much as you can gradually increasing your level of physical activity over time. Sometimes this may be difficult but it will pay off in the long term.
Simple over-the-counter painkillers can be very helpful in keeping back pain under control and allowing you to remain active.
Paracetamol is often recommended as the first choice of medication for back pain. If this does not help you, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen may provide relief. To get the best pain relief from painkillers it is recommended that you take them regularly instead of waiting until the pain is too severe. For questions on what medication you can take, ask your pharmacist, GP or hospital consultant. Always read the information provided with medication to ensure you use something that is suitable for you and you take your medication correctly and responsibly.
If over-the counter painkillers are not giving you sufficient pain relief, you can ask your GP or consultant for other options. There are many types of medication that can be helpful including other NSAIDs other than ibuprofen, opioids and even certain types of anti-depressants. All have been shown to decrease pain and in discussion with your GP or consultant you should be able to decide which is best for you. Be aware that medications may cause side effects and consider this when deciding which medications are best for you.
As explained above, staying active is very important when you have back pain and an important part of staying active is regular participation in sport and exercise. There are numerous sports, exercises and activities that can help you to manage back pain. Research has shown that there is not any specific type of exercise that is better than others.
Tips on looking for an exercise to help you with back pain:
- Choose an exercise, sport or activity that you enjoy as this means you are more likely to exercise regularly
- If you find that the exercise makes your back pain worse, adapt it or choose a different one. You should, however, expect some minor discomfort after starting an exercise programme since you body may not be accustomed to exercise
- Exercises can be divided into three categories: strengthening, endurance and flexibility exercises. These are all important when staying fit and healthy so choose an exercise programme that includes all these exercises. You don't have to do them all in one day, you can spread it over the week
- There are a number of professionals that can help you with developing an exercise programme, such as physiotherapists, personal trainers, gym instructors and many other health professionals. In some cases your GP may be able to refer you for an exercise programme on the NHS
It is especially important to remain fit and healthy when employed in a manual labour environment as there is a greater chance of injury due the physical nature of the job. A fit and healthy body will be less prone to injury even in such an environment.
When you have back pain certain activities may aggravate your pain and others may decrease it. Back pain is hardly ever at the same level all day. By keeping a pain diary you can keep track of your pain fluctuations and discover which activities make the pain worse and what leads to a reduction in pain. This may give you an insight into how you can adapt your daily activities to better manage your back pain.
There are many different treatments available for back pain. If your pain does not go away after a few weeks and is more persistent, you may be able to benefit from treatments such as manual therapy, exercise, acupuncture, pain management programmes, Disk Dr. Waist WG30, in some cases, surgery.
Questions you may want to ask when seeking treatment for back pain outside the NHS:
- What does the treatment do? How does it work and is there any evidence about its effectiveness?
- Are there any risks involved?
- How much time and money will I have to spend on this treatment?
- When can I expect to experience the benefits and are these short-term or long-term?
- What qualifications and training does the person providing the treatment have?
- Is the provider a member of a regulatory body?