BACK PAIN BLOG UK IS A PERSONAL JOURNEY OF A CHRONIC BACK PAIN SUFFERER. MY SITE IS FULL OF THE LATEST TREATMENTS, PRODUCT REVIEWS, THERAPIES, DRUGS, TIPS AND WEBSITES ON BACK PAIN, FIBROMYALGIA and ARTHRITIC CONDITIONS.
The Metro wrote that a third of people in the UK have experienced more pain during lockdown, according to a new study. The research, conducted by Nurofen, found that since we have been spending more time at home, more people have been experiencing backaches (36%), headaches (34%), joint pains (27%), neck aches (26%) and muscle aches (24%).
The researchers suggest that is caused by an unexpected pain paradox associated with the perceived ‘benefits’ that come with lockdown living. But what is causing these chronic aches and pains? At the top of the list of triggers is stress – which was the main cause for 50% of people surveyed. Which comes as no surprise, because living through a global pandemic is pretty stressful to say the least.
However a number of lockdown ‘benefits’ were also listed as surprising triggers of pain. These included having more time for: Watching more TV and films (39%) Hobbies (like DIY and gardening) (21%) Looking after children (12%) Exercise and fitness (16%) Whilst lockdown enabled people to spend more time at home with their families, this may have increased pain suffering as 12% of respondents attributed new discomfort to increased childcare hours. Younger people (aged 25-44) said they experienced more back pains and headaches, in comparison to those over 45, says The Metro.
This age group were also more likely to claim that their increased pain was caused by a poor work from home set up and more time looking after their children; perhaps as a result of juggling work with home schooling. On top of this, 50% of all respondents claimed stress was a key factor in their increased pain, which might have been a reflection of the lockdown climate. DIY and gardening, which may have been a result of new found leisure time was cited by more than a fifth (21%) as causing more acute pain. 39% believe the increased time spent in front of TVs, computers or laptops has been causing their pain. In fact, more screen time may also have had other consequences, with 35% believing changing sleep patterns and 33% thought less physical activity also worsened their pain. Some people used the new time gained to improve their health and fitness during lockdown, but this may have led to further pain as 16% of respondents felt exercise had increased their aches.
The survey also found that 60% of people want more advice on how to deal with pain, and 39% have not relied on any sources of information to help manage their pain – turning to GPs and pharmacists for help has decreased. To avoid making lockdown more painful and allow people to enjoy their pastimes, The researchers are now urging people to follow NHS advice and have developed the ‘Three P’s of Pain Management’ to help people take action when pain strikes. Proactivity – Be proactive, don’t let acute pain persist Identify pain triggers and address them. Be conscious of your pain and take action. Pain Relief – take positive steps to find a solution that works for you. And finally Prevention – help to avoid future pain occurring
On the 24th September, the NHS COVID-19 app launched across the UK, as part of the NHS Test and Trace service and NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect service. We are aware that this new app has been causing some confusion as lots of you have been in touch, so we wanted to briefly explain how the two apps are different and why you need them both.
The COVID Symptom Study app
As most of you already know, the COVID Symptom Study app is a global public science project supported by the UK government and crowd-funding, with more than 4.2 million participants providing vital health data to help researchers and the NHS understand and beat COVID-19. And it’s thanks to your ongoing support since March that we have been able to achieve some pivotal successes in the fight against COVID, like: getting loss of smell recognised officially as a major COVID symptom (as well as delirium as a key symptom in frail older adults), rapidly identifying local hotspots ahead of time, providing the government with daily data updates and much more!
The COVID Symptom Study asks you, our study participants, to log daily health updates across a wide range of potential symptoms. We invite participants to book an NHS test if they report symptoms (including but not limited to the ‘classic’ three) that might be caused by COVID-19. Please note, the COVID Symptom Study does not have any contact tracing or QR check-in facilities. It cannot access your phone’s Bluetooth, GPS, location data or contacts, and does not track you as you move around.
The NHS COVID-19 app
Unlike us, the NHS COVID-19 app has been created to support the government’s efforts to control the spread of the virus through testing and contact tracing. It has a basic symptom checker, which includes the three ‘classic’ symptoms, to help identify people eligible for a test. It also notifies users if they’ve been in ‘close contact’ with someone who then tests positive for coronavirus and allows them to check in to venues using a QR code.
The bottom line
The apps are totally separate and entirely compatible, meaning you can and are highly encouraged to use both to help us all get through the pandemic.
It’s important for as many people as possible to keep using the COVID Symptom Study app to monitor their health on a daily basis and contribute to vital research into the pandemic. You can also log on behalf of family and friends who aren’t able to use the app, including children and the elderly.
We need everyone to play their part to help us all get through this. We urge you to download and use both apps to help us get through COVID-19 over the months ahead.
More details on why we need both apps here. Keep safe and keep logging.
To mark Back Pain Awareness Week, leading UK back-pain-prevention expert and Health Ergonomist Nichola Adams offers practical advice on coping with the growing challenges of working from home for a further six months.
Leading UK back-pain-prevention expert and health ergonomist Nichola Adams’s workload has risen sharply during Covid lockdown.
And statistics show the numbers of us suffering from back pain are also growing, especially now that lockdown is extending for another six months.
To mark national Back Care Awareness Week (October 5-9), Nichola, a Technical Member of The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors, has compiled her ‘Top 10 Self-Help Tips for Back Pain and Fibromyalgia Sufferers’.
Combining the Greek words ‘ergon’ (meaning ‘work’) and ‘nomoi’ (meaning ‘natural laws’), Ergonomics is the science of making products and tasks comfortable and efficient for human use.
“Health Ergonomics is a multidisciplinary science. It combines biomechanics (how our bodies move), anthropometrics (our measurements) and psychology to enable us to design products and services that best match people’s physical, as well as mental, capabilities,” explains Nichola.
“Ergonomics recognises that we are all individuals and that there will be many external influences that affect our recovery. This includes the environment as well as social factors that affect, for instance, our attitudes towards our back pain, our stress levels and other influencing factors that can influence our levels of back pain.”
TIP 1 -Keep moving: When you do, blood flows more easily and brings nutrients and oxygen to your tissues and muscles. When sitting at your computer, standing breaks are vital. Take one every 30-60 minutes. Just standing up and siting back down will provide a beneficial boost. Take your laptop to a higher surface like a kitchen work-top or chest of drawers, then stand a while. Own a patio or garden? Work outside. Fresh air blows away brain cobwebs. TIP 2 -Eat well, stay hydrated: Keeping the body stocked with immune-boosting, antioxidant-rich foods is key. Antioxidant foods are also anti-inflammatory. Enjoy dark fruit and leafy vegetables. Magnesium-rich foods are also good for reducing mental and physical stress. Check your vitamin D levels with a home testing kit. Keep hydrated, aiming for 7-8 glasses a day. It’s all too easy, when we’re working hard, to forget to drink enough water. TIP 3 – Sit up straight: While moving regularly is key, sitting upright will also help reduce the load on your spine. Don’t sofa-slouch! If you only have your sofa to work from, mimic a good set-up. Build a supportive back using cushions (deep sofas cause slouching). Pop a cushion under your laptop to protect yourself against its heat and raise it up. Try an adjustable laptop holder that’s made for sofa or bed use. TIP 4 -Care about your chair: Sit on a chair whenever possible. If it’s a dining chair, not an office one, always try to ensure your lower-back curve is supported as this is particularly good for easing tension build-up on sensitive backs. You can use a cushion or rolled-up towel for extra support. Better still, buy an inflatable lumbar support cushion for your lower-back curve. Ask your employer if they’ll offer you budget for a chair with a lumbar support and adjustable seat height and armrests. Always sit with your arms level with the top of the desk as this will help you avoid flicking up your wrists or hunching your shoulders to type. TIP 5 -Get your screen height right: If you’re using a laptop, make sure you can either dock it onto a larger screen that’s at eye height, or raise the laptop onto some books. Alternatively, try using a laptop holder so that you aren’t slouching or looking down to read the screen as this will load unwelcome pressure onto your neck, shoulders and back. Then use a separate keyboard and mouse.
TIP 6 -Mind the gap: When using a keyboard and mouse, keep these close to the front of your desk so that you don’t find yourself in a position where there’s a gap and you’re needing to extend your arms forward when typing. Failure to do this can quickly bring on shoulder and neck tensions as our arms are surprisingly heavy when extended forward. Keep your wrists relaxed and straight in order to reduce pressure building up. TIP 7 -Stay positive: Maintaining a positive frame of mind is more important than many people realise. And your brain has a far bigger say in your body’s ability to feel pain than you might imagine. If we’re stressed and worried, our body naturally tenses up. The brain then goes on alert for pain. Despite the distractions of the pandemic, try to take time out for yourself and just relax. (Bonus mini-tip: A magnesium hot bath can also work wonders for the brain and body.) TIP 8 -And …… breathe: Slowing down your breathing can impact your cortisol levels. This brings down your stress levels and keep the oxygen flowing through the body. Try this exercise I can recommend: Step 1: Breathe in for a count of five. Step 2: Pause for a count of four. Step 3: Breathe out for eight beats. Step 4: Then pause for four. Step 5: Repeat. Get used to the maths and you’ll notice the difference straightaway. TIP 9 -Exercise gently: With no office commute, exercising daily becomes essential. Try a morning stroll, jog or cycle as morning light helps with your circadian rhythm (helping our sleep/wake cycles) and vitamin D levels. Maybe treat yourself to a visit to your local park or a coffee, to encourage yourself to get out. By venturing out in the mornings, before work gets busy, we’re more likely to stick to the routine. Try stretching exercises, too, like yoga or Pilates. TIP 10 -Remember, you’re worth it!: Focus on yourself and ring-fence extra time to keep in tune with what gives your life meaning and purpose. Remembering to take regular breaks at home isn’t easy, so use technology to set yourself automatic reminders on your mobile. When working from home, find ways to support your body so your muscles relax. Everyone’s an individual and ergonomists like me can conduct assessments remotely if you need bespoke advice.
Source: Alec Lom – Nichola Adams, MSc Health Ergonomics, Tech CIEHF (Technical Member of The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors), Reg Member ACPOHE (The Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Occupational Health and Ergonomics), is one of the UK’s leading back-pain experts and the Founder of Inspired Ergonomics (http://www.inspiredergonomics.com/)