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Back Pain

Back pain is very common. Most people will have one or more bouts of back pain at some time in their life. Most bouts of back pain ease quickly and are not due to serious back problems.

What are the causes of low back pain?

What are the symptoms of low back pain?

Pain can range from mild to severe. Simple backache and nerve root pain is typically eased by lying down flat and made worse by movements of the back, coughing and sneezing. Nerve root irritation.. may also cause pins and needles or numbness in part of the buttock or leg. Many back pains ease quickly within a week or so. Symptoms have either gone or are very much eased within 4 weeks in 3 out of 4 bouts of acute (sudden onset) back pain. About 9 out of 10 pains have gone or eased within 6 weeks. However, it is common to have further bouts of pain some time in the future. Also, it is common to have minor pains on and off, for quite some time following an initial severe bout of pain. A minority of people have troublesome regular symptoms that persist for several months or longer (chronic back pain).

Back pain with any of the following symptoms may indicate a more serious problem and should be reported to a doctor: weakness of leg or feet muscles; problems with bladder or bowels; weight loss; pain that developed gradually - in particular if you have other conditions such as arthritis, AIDS, cancer or are taking steroids. What are the treatments for low back pain?

The following advice is common for a sudden 'acute' episode of simple backache. Most people recover quickly. Treatment may vary and the situation should be reviewed by a doctor if the pain persists beyond 4-6 weeks, becomes worse or if symptoms change.

Preventing back pain

After recovering from back pain, efforts should be made to prevent recurrences.

Further information

Backcare (The National Back Pain Association)
16 Elmtree Road, Teddington, Middlesex TW11 8ST
Tel: 020 8977 5474
Web: www.backpain.org

They produce various leaflets including 'Basic back care, and 'Better back care for office workers'. (Please enclose a large stamped addressed envelope for a catalogue.)

Warning Symptoms

If any of the following occur, then please ring your doctor for further advice:

If you have not recovered after 2 weeks, it may be worth considering some physical treatment. Various therapists provide physical treatment, from physiotherapists, available locally under the NHS, to private Osteopaths and Chiropractors.

If you want to see our local NHS physiotherapists please ask your Doctor for a referral. Unfortunately there is often a wait of several weeks for National Health treatment.

Most private therapists are happy to see you without a letter from your Doctor. There is a private physiotherapy service at the Breakspeare Clinic at Milton Under Wychwood, tel. 01993 830 913.

If you have private health insurance it will usually provide cover for private physical therapy. Check with your insurance company and they will send you a claim form. A fee will be charged if the claim form has to be completed by your Doctor. Please enquire at reception as to what the current fee for this service is.