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Hands-on help for back pain sufferers
ARE you one of the estimated 51 per cent of UK workers who have suffered from back pain in the last 12 months?
A new study of 1,600 16 to 65- year-olds found those aged between 55 to 65 were most likely to be affected, with women most likely to suffer.
A third of those surveyed said they had lived with back pain for more than a year; a quarter said more than two years and one in seven said they had been in pain for more than five years.
The study, carried out by Nuffield Health, provides a snapshot of how widespread the problem among UK workers.
Manoj Krishna, consultant spinal surgeon and columnist for The Press, said: “Back, neck and spine pain can be very debilitating and often leads to depression and long- term sickness.
“Early treatment offers the best results but often patients are caught in a dilemma between their pain on the one hand and a fear of treatment on the other.
“Surgery is only necessary in a small number of people who have failed with other options like injections or physical therapy.
“Recent advances have made treatment safer, the results better and the recovery faster.
“People should not suffer in silence. In the 21st century, there are solutions for the vast majority of people.”
According to Cabella Lowe, head of physiotherapy at Nuffield Health, back pain is often a combination of factors, which can include poor posture, weak spinal supporting muscles and poor movement patterns.
People who are inactive for large parts of the day, typically hunched over a computer keyboard, often suffer with back pain. “Many people just need the right advice on what to do to help their back, others benefit from ‘hands-on treatment’. The important thing is to seek expert advice quickly, as research shows that early intervention is the key to getting rid of back pain quickly.”
One-in-five people who responded said that back pain interfered with their work and home life “most days” with one in 20 people saying they lived with constant pain. For those aged over 55, that figure doubles, with almost one ten (nine per cent) saying they are in constant pain, while a quarter say they are in pain “most days”.
Almost half of those surveyed said they had sought treatment via their GP, but a third said they had failed to find a successful treatment solution. Figures released last week by the Office for National Statistics confirmed that musculoskeletal problems accounted for 34.4 millions lost working days in 2011, more than any other illness.
According to the NHS, the best way to beat back pain is to keep as active as possible and continue with your daily activities.
Take painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, if you feel the need to. Hot or cold compression packs may also help reduce the pain. You can buy compression packs from your pharmacy, or a bag of frozen vegetables and a hotwater bottle will work just as well.
Doctors say your state of mind can play an important role too. Living with the pain can make it hard to be cheerful, but research has shown that people who remain positive tend to recover faster than those who get depressed.
For back pain lasting for more than six weeks (which doctors describe as chronic), treatment typically involves a combination of painkillers and either acupuncture, exercise classes or manual therapy.
Spinal surgery is usually only considered when all else has failed.