13 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT BACK PAIN…

Here are thirteen facts about back pain that you may not know.

Back pain

1. Back pain costs the NHS approximately £12.3 billion per year on back pain related costs, with £1.6 billion spent on treatments.

2. Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, it is the second most common reason for visits to your GP.

3. Most back pain cases are mechanical and non-organic which basically means it’s NOT caused by a serious condition, but rather from poor posture and poor use of your body.

4. Low back pain is the second most reason to visit to your GP.

5. Back pain is the most frequent cause of limited activity in people younger than 45 years old.

6. Experts estimate that as many as 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. 30% of those will have recurring problems.

7. Most back pain goes away on its own, whether or not you treat it with medication or other therapies.

8. According to the Office for National Statistics, almost 31million work days were lost in the UK in 2016 due to musculoskeletal problems and back pain. 

Back pain

9. Bed rest is NOT helpful for the back pain.

10. Exercise is good and safe for back pain. 

11.  Maintaining a healthy weight will help prevent back pain. 

12. Surgery is rarely needed for back pain

13. Your back is stronger than you think.

 

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TREATING ACUTE PAIN BEFORE IT TURNS INTO CHRONIC PAIN…

Although acute back pain can be frustrating to live with, they say that you should try to remain as positive as possible. Research has shown that people with a positive mental attitude tend to have quicker recovery times and are much less likely to progress from acute to chronic back pain.

For acute back pain, they say you should remain as active as possible. If you find it too painful to return to your normal daily activities immediately, pace yourself and aim to do a little more each day.

Going back to work can help you to return to a normal pattern of activity, and it can often distract you from your symptoms of pain so don’t wait until all the pain has gone before you go back.

People with back pain find that using either hot or cold compression packs helps to reduce pain. Personally, I prefer heat rather than ice.

Placing a small firm cushion beneath your knees when you are sleeping on your side, or using several firm pillows to prop up your knees when lying on your back, may also help to ease your symptoms.

If the symptoms persist then go and see your GP or a professional chiropractor or physiotherapist.

MYOFASCIAL PAIN -v- DISC PAIN…

As most of my readers know I suffer from chronic back pain after four previous spinal fusion surgeries only alleviated the pain for a matter of years before it came back.

Nowadays spinal fusion is not used as the first choice for prolapsed discs with pain management being the first treatment and only if nerves are compressed is it used as another option.

The problem with spinal fusion especially if you have more than one surgery is the pressure it puts on the disc below and above your fusion.

Another condition which you can also suffer from after any type of surgery is Myofascial Pain Syndrome which is a chronic painful muscle disorder and is common if you have experienced a muscle injury. Over time these myofascial restrictions can lead to poor biomechanics, altered structural alignment, compromised blood supply and pain. Other causes of myofascial pain are injuries to an intervertebral disc, general fatigue, repetitive motions, and some medical conditions.

It is characterised by the myofascial trigger points and the symptoms include persistent or worsening pain, deep and aching muscle pain, tender knots located in the muscles and pain after exercise or sporting activity.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) is the name given to pain caused by trigger points and fascia (connective tissue) adhesions in the body, usually in muscle tissue, and inflammation in the body’s soft tissues.

Myo = muscle
Fascia = the main connective tissue in the body
Release = to let go, ease pressure

Treatments include anti-inflammatory medication, pain killers, physical therapy, stretching, massage therapy and trigger point injections.

A trigger point injection is either a cortisone injection or dry needling. Pain relief is quick and helps in continuing physical therapy. Trigger point injections can also be used for people suffering from degenerative disc disease.

Understanding the cause of your pain is an important step to finding an effective solution. It may involve a series of sessions and an at home program to keep the area strong.

Disc pain can come from a disc bulge or prolapse but you can also get myofascial pain which could be treated conservatively instead of surgery. Fibromyalgia patients can also suffer from myofascial pain. According to history, Sir William Gowers introduced the term fibrositis for a common, but idiopathic, localized form of muscular rheumatism that is now recognised as myofascial pain syndrome in 1904. And, despite the intervening years, it still constitutes the largest group of unrecognised and undertreated acute and chronic pain problems. Some people (like myself) have also been told they could have Fibromyalgia, previously named ‘fibrositis’.

My neck and arm pain have been giving me a lot of problems since last summer and after extensive tests, MRI’s, ct scans and more it was decided that a nerve block would help with the pain. There is never any guarantee with any injection but they hope to give the patient a few months of pain relief.

Nerve block injections into your neck for a disc bulge can be quite dangerous as they are quite tricky to do and they go through the front of your neck. I had this injection about six weeks ago. It’s not a very nice injection (if any are) but I knew the pain consultant had hit the spot and soon felt total relief. Unfortunately, it was short lived and only gave me pain relief for a few weeks. Not all the pain has come back but most of it as did the pins and needles.

I then had another appointment at the pain clinic and after looking at my MRI’s etc I was given a quick check where my pain consultant felt that the pain I now have could well be myofascial and not from the bulging disc so he has booked me in for a series of steroid injections in my shoulders.

I guess with any spinal pain after you have had all the tests it’s then worth trying alternative treatments well before you resort to surgery which is something I have always said I would avoid having.

 

PROLOTHERAPY FOR RELIEF OF CHRONIC MUSCULOSKELETAL PAIN…

Prolotherapy addresses damaged ligaments (bands of connective tissue that help keep bones attached to each other) to relieve chronic musculoskeletal pain.

Prolotherapy is an injection of a liquid solution into soft tissue like your ligaments and tendons. This then triggers local inflammation and the body’s natural healing response which repairs the weakened soft tissues and relieves pain.

Unlike conventional drugs, Prolotherapy is thought to address the underlying pain problem coming from aggravated nerves.

Once the areas that require treatment are found, the consultant will insert a thin needle with the solution into the inflamed area. You will probably experience mild pain, but it can be reduced if you need it by using a local aesthetic first.

A typical course of treatment is around 10-25 sessions.

Preliminary studies have found that pain responds well to this treatment. The American Association of Orthopaedic Medicine state that Prolotherapy is a safe and effective treatment for selected cases of lower back pain, and other chronic myofascial pain syndromes.

The British Institute of Musculoskeletal Medicine holds a list of Prolotherapy practitioners in the UK.

According to Wellness Pharmacy Patients occasionally experience a great deal of relief after their first injection; most, however, note improvement after 3-4 injections, with the duration of treatment then determined by the rate of progress. Studies suggest a success rate (“greater than 50% improvement in pain level”) of 80-90%. They also have 20 common questions and answers about Prolotherapy, here.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT HOBBY THAT WON’T CAUSE A FLARE-UP OF YOUR PAIN…

Choosing the right hobby to enjoy while in chronic pain can be as important as trying out a new drug. What many people do not realise is that chronic pain has a very unpleasant side effect – boredom.

Being diagnosed with any type of chronic pain can be distressing to anyone and cause anxiety about how they will manage it. The pain could cause problems from swelling, stiffness and difficulty moving joints, but the severity may vary and symptoms come and go in flare-ups, so the last thing you want to do is cause your own flare-up.

One of my personal favourite hobbies is writing this blog, but I have had to adjust how I write it to be comfortable because of my neck problems and only last year changed my laptop for an iPad mini which I can position so it’s the right height so as to not cause any flare-ups.

Another of my favourite hobbies is making handmade cards and only a couple of days ago I made some new designs. I was probably making them for a couple of hours and I admit I didn’t really think about the position I was in as I was enjoying myself so much.

It was a bad decision and last night I had probably one of the worst nights of neck and arm pain I have had in a long time which kept me awake most of the night. Today I had an appointment to see a spinal consultant about my neck and arm pain and he showed us the problematic disc causing all my problems. I now have to have a CT Scan so he can look at my bones and how the two previous cervical surgeries are doing but he is leaning towards me needing further surgery.

Even with extra medication today and resting all afternoon the pain has only subsided a little so I am really cross with myself for even thinking I could make some cards with causing a major flare-up.

Three very important factors to remember when starting a hobby while in pain are –

1. Am I going to put any pressure on my condition by trying this hobby?

2. In the long term can I cause a flare-up of my condition by taking up this hobby?

3. Is this hobby really worth taking up if it is going to irritate my condition?

I really wish I had just thought about this before I started making my cards on Sunday. I have been in a mess since last summer with this particular disc so I should have known better. It won’t put me off enjoying my hobbies but it will make me think before I embark on one again.

The UK Mobility Group have a list of hobbies with recommended modifications to avoid flare-ups. Some great books on the subject are Crafting: The Top 300 Best Crafts by Susan Hollister. and The Neuroscience of Mindfulness: The Astonishing Science Behind How everyday hobbies help you Relax by Dr. Stan Rodski.

Some other very popular hobbies for people in pain are –

1. Comping
2. Get a penpal
3. Sewing
4. Photography
5. Writing
6. Card Making
7. Art with Mosaics
8. Antiques
9. Scrapbooking
10.Jewellery Making
11.Learn a new language
12.Knitting
13.Reading
14.Book group
15.Music
16. Webpals

17.Travelling
18.Blogging
19.Crocheting
20.scrabble/games
21.Cooking
22.Genealogy & Family History
23.Crafts
24.Cross Stitch
25.Astronomy
26.Stamp Collector
27.Poetry
28.Calligraphy
29.Suduko
30.Surfing the Internet
31.Home Study Courses

32. Cross-stitch

What are the hobbies that help you while in pain? I would like to add them to my list as I would quite like to research and write on this subject in more detail.