Back and neck pain is one of the main causes of absenteeism from work in the UK. I see many people suffering from pain in their lower back, mid back and neck. NICE now recommends osteopathic treatment for back and neck pain. This means we are clinically proven to help treat many forms of back pain.
Causes of Back and Neck Pain
The most common complaint coming through my doors used to be back pain from people who had quite physical jobs. Slipped discs, lumbago or just chronic arthritic pain were probably a third of all the patients when I first started practicing over ten years ago. However there has been a slow shift away from that due to improvements in manual handling regulations leading to people being taught how to lift correctly. Severe back pain is now reducing.
In turn there has been a significant increase in chronic neck and shoulder pain mainly due to the increase in computer use. Many of us sit at our computers, laptops and tablets for a long time during the day and infrequently get up and move around the office. Once we get home there is often more time spent sitting looking at the television, our home computers, laptops, tablets and smart phones. This is a lot of time spent not moving, usually hunched with our head held forward. Every time we move our head an inch forward we double the strain on the back of our necks. Over time this leads to a huge amount of strain on the shoulders and neck and causes increased wear and tear or osteoarthritis.
Treatment of Back and Neck Pain
Treatment of back and neck pain is usually pretty straightforward. Most patients improve or are completely better after two to six treatments. Depending on the diagnosis and how the patient is on the day the treatment will vary. Some clients come in not being able to sit down or even lie down so I can treat in whichever position they find most comfortable. After the first treatment severe pain is usually reduced enough to get most people on my treatment couch and lying comfortably enough to have a more traditional treatment. I quite often treat patients using both traditional structural osteopathic techniques, such as stretching and articulation, as well as cranial lighter techniques. However if you have a preference to how you are treated I will accommodate your requests.
If you have sudden back or neck pain I suggest you follow this routine until you can get to an osteopath :
- Ice – this technique works well to reduce pain and inflammation. Use a gel ice pack (or a pack of peas), wrap it in a tea towel, place it on the area of pain for five minutes, then remove it for another five minutes. Continue like this for 30 minutes altogether. If you find comfort then you can do this up to four times in a day.
- Stay mobile – rest when you can but if you find that the pain is worse when you stay still for too long then get up and move around. This will help you to loosen some of the tense muscles and reduce the inflammation which may be accumulating.
- Pain Relief – If you can, taking an anti-inflammatory can help. This can be as simple as ibuprofen or something stronger if that has been prescribed by your doctor. If you need advice on what you can take speak to a pharmacist.