Sim­ple so­lu­tions to back pain

Shepparton News - Country News - - COUNTRY LIFE -

A new pro­gram on low back pain from NPS MedicineWise will ad­dress the mis­taken be­lief that you need a scan (X-ray, CT scan or MRI) for a new episode of low back pain, and will pro­vide ad­vice on how to make a quick re­cov­ery through keep­ing ac­tive.

NPS MedicineWise med­i­cal ad­viser Jean­nie Yoo said low back pain was a com­mon prob­lem that was un­pleas­ant and could be dis­tress­ing, but most peo­ple will re­cover within weeks with sim­ple man­age­ment and with­out need­ing a scan.

‘‘For around 90 per cent of peo­ple with low back pain the cause can’t be found, which is called non-spe­cific pain,’’ Dr Yoo said.

‘‘Se­ri­ous causes of low back pain, on the other hand, are rare.

‘‘With non-spe­cific low back pain, scans have lim­ited use­ful­ness.

‘‘They won’t change the de­ci­sions made about your treat­ment and can even be harm­ful.

‘‘As we age our bod­ies change, hair goes grey and skin gets wrin­kles.

‘‘Al­though a scan can be ex­pected to show age-re­lated changes in your spine, these are not nec­es­sar­ily the cause of your pain.

‘‘How­ever, know­ing about these changes may cause you to worry and lead to treat­ment that is un­nec­es­sary, in­clud­ing surgery.’’

What should you do about low back pain?

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Yoo, adopt­ing an ac­tive ap­proach and man­ag­ing your pain with sim­ple strate­gies is the an­swer. ‘‘Don’t stay in bed,’’ she said. ‘‘Get back to your usual ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing work as soon as you can.

‘‘It may hurt at first when you’re ac­tive, but this doesn’t mean you’re dam­ag­ing your back.

‘‘In fact, stay­ing ac­tive re­duces your over­all amount of pain and time off work and speeds up your re­cov­ery.

‘‘Heat packs can help re­lieve pain.

‘‘For more se­vere pain, medicines can have a role.

‘‘But don’t ex­pect them to stop your pain com­pletely.

‘‘If they’re needed, take them to help you stay as ac­tive as pos­si­ble,’’ she said.

Back the facts ➤ Low back pain is the lead­ing cause of dis­abil­ity world­wide.

➤ Four out of five Aus­tralians will ex­pe­ri­ence low back pain at some point in their lives.

➤ Up to 80 per cent of 50-yearolds with­out low back pain have nor­mal, age-re­lated changes in their spine.

➤ A scan for non-spe­cific low back pain won’t help you get bet­ter faster (you may even feel worse).

➤ Most peo­ple with low back pain re­cover within four to six weeks.

➤ Mo­tion is lo­tion. Your back gets stronger with move­ment and ac­tiv­ity. ➤ To find out more about the ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram, go to: www.nps.org.au/low­back­pain

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