As many as 8 in every 10 Britons suffer a bad back at some time in their life!
It appears that Britain is a nation of people who have bad backs. Recent research revealed that 80% of Brits have one or more episodes in their life, and the condition is the most common reason why we visit our GP. In a lot of cases, the treatment to treat the condition will be as simple as taking a painkiller and trying to get on with our day. However, in rare instances, back pain can be symptomatic of something far more sinister, such as cancer or tuberculosis. If you suffer with back pain, the first thing you do should always be to see and visit your GP. Put simply, if your back pain is unrelenting and still there whilst you rest, are active or lying down, or it even disturbs your sleep, you need to get it investigated as soon as possible. The good news is that many instances of back pain are easily treatable and need not lead to long-term pain and suffering. Here, with the help of leading experts, we find out what your back could be saying. My back hurts when I am standing for a long time. Is it Osteoarthritis of the Spine This is a degenerative disease that affects the cartilage which coats the bones at the end of joints. Sometimes, the wear and tear of osteoarthritis also puts pressure on the nerves extending from the spinal column, causing weakness and pain in the arms or legs. Osteoarthritis of the spine doesn’t usually happen until the age of 45. How is it treated? Lose weight and this will help ease pressure on your back. And when you sit at your desk, make sure your bottom is at the back of your chair. A stabbing pain or spasm in the side of the back. Is it a pulled muscle? This happens when the back muscles are strained or even torn, as a result of an accident. How is it treated? You may need to rest for a day if the pain is really bad, but start moving as soon as you can, otherwise the muscles can become immobilised and the problem worsens. Use ice, an ice spray or gel for about 6-8 minutes on the affected area, 3-4 times each day. Do this for the first 36 hours to reduce inflammation, then switch to heat treatment which will help relax the muscles.
It’s not only my back, but my legs also hurt. Leg pain, numbness or weakness that starts in the low back and travels down the sciatic nerve in the leg is known as sciatica. The pain is likely to be constant in one side of the buttock or leg and is made worse by sitting. Sciatica is commonly caused by a slipped disc, when the spinal discs that act as cushions between the bones of the spine move and press on the nerves. If you have a slipped disc, it may hurt when you cough. How is it treated? Most slipped discs resolve and fix themselves spontaneously as the disc heals itself. However, you can alleviate leg pain at night by sleeping with a pillow between your knees. Hot packs applied to the back may also help as these provide heat and support to the area. For women, wearing tight knickers or leggings can offer support. If the condition goes on for 6 weeks or more, your specialist may suggest injections of steroids into the spine to reduce inflammation.