What is back pain?
Back pain is the biggest cause of disability in the UK and was highlighted as a key issue for people in our automotive industry survey. Back pain is very common and usually improves within a few weeks or months.
What are the symptoms?
Pain in the lower back (lumbago) is particularly common, although it can be felt anywhere along the spine, from the neck down to the hips.
Back pain usually gets better on its own within a few weeks or months and you may not need to see a doctor or other healthcare professional.
But it's a good idea to get help if:
- the pain does not start to improve within a few weeks
- the pain stops you from doing your day-to-day activities
- the pain is very severe or gets worse over time
- you're worried about the pain or struggling to cope
Who is at risk?
It is estimated that 8 out of 10 people in the UK will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Lower back pain is the most common but it can affect people anywhere along the spine from the neck to the buttocks.
What can I do to prevent back pain?
It's difficult to prevent back pain, but the following tips may help reduce your risk:
- do regular back exercises and stretches – a GP or physiotherapist may be able to advise you about exercises to try
- stay active – doing regular exercise can help keep your back strong; adults are advised to do at least 150 minutes of exercise a week - find more tips here
- avoid sitting for long periods, keep active and take regular breaks
- check your posture when sitting, using computers or tablets and watching television – find out how to sit correctly and get tips for laptop users
- ensure the mattress on your bed supports you properly
- lose weight through a combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise if you're overweight – being overweight can increase your risk of developing back pain
It’s important to look after your back to avoid associated pain. Strengthening the muscles with daily back exercises or low-impact activities such as swimming or yoga is a great way to keep your back fit and flexible.
If you sit at a desk all day, make sure to set up your workspace correctly to reduce the risk of straining your back, and if you need to lift a heavy object, remember to bend from the knees.
For more advice on looking after your back check out this informative guide from the NHS. However, see a specialist if your back pain is ongoing or chronic.
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