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Back pain – important things to know & what the latest research suggests is best

Low back pain can be incredibly painful and can significantly impact on your ability to perform your activities of daily living. What’s more it’s extremely common. Did you know that low back pain is the leading cause of disability globally, with up to 80% of people likely to suffer an episode of back pain at some point in their lives?

So with that in mind, here’s some important things to know, should you experience an episode of back pain in the future.

Stay calm, it should resolve within weeks, if not earlier

Some episodes of back pain can be incredibly painful and even frightening. Muscle spasm can drastically impact your mobility and in some circumstances involvement of the nerves that run from your spine to your legs can cause pain, altered sensation and weakness. But in most cases, these symptoms are only temporary, as most acute episodes tend to resolve within 6-8 weeks using simple conservative treatments and advice on how to manage your symptoms.

Stay active, continue your usual activities and avoid excessive bed rest

While severe muscle spasm can make all movement painful and bed rest may seem like the most logical thing to do. However, the latest research suggests that people who remain active during an episode of back pain do better in the long term. In fact, longer periods of bed rest are associated with greater levels of pain, disability and longer timeframes to return to work.

Our spines are strong and resilient!

Have you ever been told you’ve slipped a disc? Or that your spine is out of alignment? Research unequivocally shows that discs can’t slip and bones and joints in the spine do not just fall out of place. In fact, believing this to be true can actually be harmful, as it suggests the spine is vulnerable which can cause us to avoid movements out of a fear of injury. Our spines are reinforced by many ligaments and supported by strong muscles. We are designed to move, bend and twist in all the directions our body allows. An acute episode of back pain may be associated with pain when moving in a particular direction, but don’t forget this is only short term. Once the pain settles, restoring movement into the painful direction is paramount and will build confidence that your spine can tolerate all the activities of your daily living.

Exercise is beneficial for reducing pain and preventing recurrence

Exercise is the only known treatment approach that can prevent recurrences of low back pain. What’s more, it’s also highly beneficial as an analgesic to reduce pain levels. Our brain produces chemicals, such as dopamine and endorphins (and many others) that can enhance our mood and alter our perception of pain. And guess what, regular exercise promotes the secretion of these chemicals! Activities like walking, running, swimming, cycling, pilates and yoga have been shown to have positive effects on reducing back pain in the long term and are all shown to be safe. Some of these types of exercise may be painful in the immediate short term but once that acute episode begins to settle, they actually make your back stronger and healthier. They don’t wear it out.

The best form of exercise is the one that is done consistently. So find that activity you enjoy, stick with it and don’t let a little bit of back pain get in the way for too long!

We’re here to help

If you suffer from back pain and need help with managing your symptoms and advice on how to prevent future recurrences, contact the team at Physio Room today.

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