Back Pain: Causes and Treatments

Back pain is one of the most common orthopaedic health issues and can affect anyone at any age. Many people suffer from back pain without investigating what causes it and can live with back pain for years before they seek medical attention. It is important to keep a record of your pain so that when you do speak to a doctor you can give a clear picture of the pain: where it is, the intensity and type of pain, and any common factors associated with pain, for example if it is always worse first thing in the morning or after a day at work.

What causes back pain?

There are a number of causes of back pain, but it is notoriously difficult to diagnose. There are environmental factors, such as the position of your chair or computer screen at work. Spending long periods of time driving can cause back pain, as can sleeping on an uncomfortable or unsupportive mattress or pillows. However, there are many conditions and diseases that can cause back pain as a symptom, and nerve pain can manifest as back pain. Over time, it is possible to develop abnormalities in the alignment of your spine that cause pain. And of course, it is possible that you are born with a genetic condition where pain is a symptom that requires correction. You may have injured your back and in this situation sometimes it is clear how this happened, for example if you were involved in a car accident, but not always. For this reason, it is important to be seen by a medical professional to determine the cause of your back pain.

How can I manage back pain?

Managing back pain will be different for everyone. It is important to be seen by a specialist before you self-medicate, as severe pain over a long period of time can lead to a dependency on painkillers or other complications. Once you know that the pain does not have an underlying cause, or is chronic, you can look into ways of managing the pain. Often, improving posture can make a big difference. This can be done by being aware of how you sit at work and at home, and by being aware of the way that you sleep. If you have suffered an injury, you may need to avoid certain activities for a time to allow your body to fully heal.

Is there treatment available?

There are many treatments available for back pain. Physiotherapists and osteopaths both deal with back pain and can try different methods of controlling pain or improving alignment. They may suggest exercises you can practise at home to improve your symptoms. Chiropractors use different methods to relieve symptoms and investigate the cause of back pain. There are alternative therapies that some people report as having a positive effect such as acupuncture. However, if there is a clear medical cause for the pain, once diagnosed by a GP, orthopaedic surgery may be available to correct the problem.

What can I do to improve my symptoms?

Being aware of triggers is very important in relieving pain. Avoiding things that exacerbate the pain, such as heavy lifting or certain types of exercise, can vastly improve your quality of life. However, the most important thing is to seek professional medical help. If you can pinpoint a cause of pain, you have a good chance of being able to deal with it. If you are a chronic sufferer of back pain, physiotherapy has been proven to help symptoms and deal with the underlying causes.

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