Back Pain

Almost 1 in 6 Australians experience back pain each year, across both male and female genders and most commonly of working age.

The causes of back pain can be numerous. Some are self-inflicted due to bad habits (posture) while others are by accidents, muscle strains and sports injuries.

Symptoms of back pain include:

  • consistent aching or stiffness anywhere along the spine, from the base of the neck to the tail bone
  • sharp pain in the neck, upper back or lower back – commonly associated with a recent heavy lift or strenuous exercise
  • chronic ache in the lower back or middle of back – commonly associated with extended periods of sitting or standing
  • pain that radiates from the lower back to the buttocks and thigh area, moving down the leg to the toes
  • the inability to stand or walk after rising out of a seated position without having lower back pain or muscle spasms

We recommend you see your family GP if you have any of the following:

  • numbness, tingling or weakness in the legs or arms (spinal issue)
  • pain from your back that extends down the back of your leg (sciatica)
  • back pain when you cough or bend from the waist (herniated disc)
  • back pain associated with fever, frequent or hurried urination, and associated burning during urination (infection)
  • you begin to have trouble controlling your bladder or bowels

Some self-care methods you can try yourself to alleviate your back pain include:

  • movement – avoid prolonged bed rest as tightness can occur with slow and small movement increasing each day to help the healing process. Include light stretching and avoiding any heavy lifting and pulling/pushing movements
  • hot and cold treatments – warm baths and hot water bottles or ice packs and frozen peas applied to the painful area may help. Remember to separate the cold items from your skin to avoid damaging it. You can use a tea towel or wet cloth
  • sleeping position – you can try sleeping on your side, placing a pillow between your legs and drawing your legs up slightly to your chest.
  • relaxation – constant muscle tension via worrying can make your back pain worse.
  • medication – common low-level pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can be included into your treatment regimen to ease the pain. Always check with your pharmacist or GP to make sure your current health status is safe with those medicines

 

References:

Health Direct

Better Health Victoria

Healthy WA

Pain Australia

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