Lily Allen discovered the debilitating effects of back pain when it caused her to break down in tears during a gig in Helsinki, Finland. She said on her Twitter page, “(I) fell over badly last night and I’ve really f***** my back up. Just had an injection in my bum. How am I gonna get through tonight’s gig?”. Toby Maguire also reported chronic lower back pains after the filming of Seabiscuit that nearly lost him his famous role in the 2004 film Spider-Man 2. Back pain effects over 80% of the UK population at some point in their lives and it is estimated that over 2.5 million UK people currently suffer upper and lower back pain problems.
Upper and Lower Back Pain Relief
Many people find that back pain will improve within a few days or weeks. Research has also found that about 50% of people who suffer a bout of upper or lower back pain will suffer another bout within 2 years. Back pain is the body’s way of telling you that something is wrong and that needs rectifying. This could be a lifestyle change or simply helping a muscle tear heal. Chronic back pain can last for several weeks and give a constant painful ache that will not go away by itself. You will want to help relieve this back pain so that it doesn’t impair your ability to enjoy day-to-day activities over the coming weeks.
Keep Life Moving
It can be beneficial to rest your back for a couple of days at the start of a bout of chronic upper or lower back pain. Recent research has suggested that resting your back for too long may not be the best long term treatment. Too much rest can lead to a deterioration of back muscles, stiffness, depression and weakening of bones. After an initial rest period try to move little and often and gently stretch whenever possible.
Documenting your back pain
It may not seem like you are seeing any improvement or pain relief in your back. Keeping a daily diary can help you monitor changes in the level of pain and also what triggers your back pain.
Strengthen your body
The strength of core abdominal muscles is important in supporting your back. You should try to maintain a good core strength with exercises such as abdominal curls. Most people are either left or right handed. This often means that your one arm is stronger than the other leading to an imbalance of muscle strength across your body. Evening out this imbalance can lead to better posture and help treat back pain. Try to become more ambidextrous by using your weaker arm to pick up objects or comb your hair.
Heat & Hydrotherapy
Using a whirlpool bath where jets of water are sprayed against the skin’s surface can help give relief to back pain. The warm water raises the core temperature of the body. To help control temperature blood is diverted towards the surface of the skin and away from the inflamed tissue that is lower down. In addition, the stimulation of nerves in the skin can override the pain receptors helping to give temporary upper or lower back pain relief. Water also provides a natural buoyancy to the body that makes movement and exercises easier.
Other products like “Deep Heat” use herbs such as mint and cinnamon to increase the heat in a certain area. This can help to draw blood to the area and override the pain receptors from the deeper tissue. Thank you to Dr Keith Souter at the Daily Mail for some of these back pain tips.
Tell us how you deal with back pain…