Statistically, 80% of people will have back pain at some point in their life! Horrible! Among the top 3 reasons for consulting a GP, the risk of developing neck pain is 3 to 4 times higher if one works daily in an office. We’re here to help, with tips and techniques to combat causes such as poor alignment of the neck, prolonged bad seating posture, repetitive tasks or mental fatigue can all contribute to the issue.
Our physiotherapist, Troy Dopson, takes a whole hour of careful history taking and therapy to treat a patient. There are no shortcuts or leaving patients on machines. Back pain, at a cost to France of 2.3 billion Euros yearly, is far from being inevitable: there are now a number of approaches to not only treat, but also to prevent these pains.
Our natural response is to reach for the pain killers, however recent research (35 trials with 6000 people) has shown that this only works while taking the drugs. Guess what? Old fashioned stretching and strengthening does work too.
- In case of acute/recent onset pain, it is recommended to observe and monitor your body for one or two days during complete rest. After 48 hours, it is advisable to gradually resume normal activities including non-sports, daily activities such as walking, working or shopping. Also, you could start sports aimed at both relaxing and strengthening back and abdominal muscles. Exercises such as Pilates, swimming and yoga, are particularly effective in spacing seizures or preventing relapse.
- Manage stress – don’t let yourself get angered by that email from an annoying colleague! Practice shrugging your shoulders up to your ears, hold for 5 secs, then release. Not only will you release the neck muscles, but make the intent to let your frustration go with it.
- Good sleep is essential – often a soft feather pillow under the neck is good, and when travelling (put your pillow in your case!) a rolled up towel works well.
- Adopt a good posture in the office while avoiding staying in the same position for too long. Have a rule to walk round the office every hour.
- The back is largely composed of muscles, which needs to be strengthened from time to time.
Simple Exercises :
- The yoga ‘plank’, held for 30 seconds to 1 minute daily. It may seem simple, but you will eventually see the difference it makes. This is the basic push-up position which will work all of your core muscles.
- For neck tension: sitting in your chair, with left arm pull on left side of chair whilst you tilt your head to the right. Breathe for 4 seconds, change. Repeat 3 times. Be gentle!
- Lower back pain is often due to stiffness due to prolonged sitting. This is a simple exercise. Inhale and count slowly to 5 to go up. Rediscover by expiring counting again up to 5 and slowly placing vertebra by vertebra on the ground.
- For spine flexibility, the antidote to sitting all day, try the ‘cat-cow ‘ move.
Two Vicious Cycles Happening With Chronic Back And Neck Back Pains, An Experienced Physiotherapist’s Point Of View:
As a physiotherapist of many years Troy sees that firstly, because pain itself will make us anxious, we pump out stress hormones, which lead to the muscles going into spasm and cramps, as well as leading us down the path of poor sleep, fatigue and depression. Our pain sensors are on high alert, sending “danger messages” which end up making us even more sensitive to different types of pain than previously. We worry that any movement may cause more pain, and become semi invalids. Avoiding exercise, missing out on work. or socialising, our lives shrink and mood becomes low.
Secondly, many healthcare professionals don’t like to encourage people to get moving, worrying that things will get worse. Because of this, muscles become shorter and tighter, increasing stiffness and making movement even more difficult. What you need is a physiotherapist to tell you what exercises will be good for you and what is too much for your body. Whether your problem is post-op, a back pain, or a sporting knee injury, the principles are the same. Starting gradually and building up over time, aiming for a mixture of:
- Cardiovascular exercise which gets the blood and lymph circulating, bringing healing blood cells to the damaged area as well as providing waste disposal for toxic buildup.
- Stretching which lengthens muscle fibres and improves flexibility.
- Strengthening exercises which will help prevent future injury by keeping joints in the proper places.
Treat back pain through physiotherapy:
The problem is, physiotherapists need to mobilize and treat these back and neck problems without worsening them. This is done through careful examination and special techniques involving precise knowledge of anatomy and physiology of muscles and their pain receptor locations. We need to stop the pain – restricted movement – more pain cycles by appropriate intervention. Troy has hourly appointments for this individualized assessment and a hands-on treatment.
- Personalized management: The passive physiotherapy methods consist of massages, muscular stretching, mobilization of the articulations by traction. All these techniques (strain/counter strain: trigger point therapy etc.) can be used with the aim of restoring the muscles of the elasticity or to improve the articular mobility.
- Suitable for the whole family: physiotherapy is for all walks in life whether it be adults, sportsmen, infants, pregnant women, or seniors
- Treatment duration: in the case of acute attacks such as lumbago, torticollis (neck stuck) or sciatica, the treatment is generally short – typically around three sessions. Treatment for chronic neck and back pain (pain for more than three months), the treatment is often longer; the goal being to gradually space the painful episodes, and thus the appointments.
Also, if you’re a sportsman, you can book a physiotherapy consultation for preventative measures (sporting event or a long stay to come).
Troy, physiotherapist, “ Whatever age, fit or unfit, let me help get you back to 100%! “