So, you that niggling ache or slight twinge in your back has finally morphed into true teeth-gritting pain which has been plaguing you for days and you can’t take it much more.
A sympathetic friend said it might be a trapped nerve and you probably need anti-inflammatories, so you head off to see your doctor and his or her prescription pad in the hope of scoring some diclofenac, because the Voltarol just won’t cut it anymore.
The first thing your doctor is probably going to do is put you on the scales.
If you’re overweight, he or she might give you some analgesia to keep the worst of the discomfort at bay, but the chances are that what you’re most likely to be prescribed as well is some candid advice on your lifestyle and a recommendation to lose some of the extra baggage you’re carrying.
The simple fact is that more pounds mean more pain, when it comes to back problems and although physiotherapy for back pain can help, it will never truly counteract poor lifestyle choices.
Although we get used to carrying weight, familiarity doesn’t lighten the load. If you’re half a stone overweight, it’s the same as carrying an average newborn baby around with you all the time. 12lbs? That’s an American bald eagle perched on your shoulder all day, every day. A stone and a half? You might as well have a car tyre strapped to your back.
You might be sitting there thinking that, yes, you’re carrying a bit more junk in the trunk than is probably good for you, but you have a sedentary job and you do get out and pound a couple of miles of pavement every week to try to stay on top of it.
But what you probably don’t realise is that that’s even worse.
Being the wrong shape and out of shape is one thing, but studies have shown that back pain is actually worse among the ‘weekend warriors’ who push themselves hard at the weekend but take no other exercise for the rest of the week.
We’re not saying the back pain you’re experiencing is a direct result of being overweight (although that’s a distinct possibility if you have a serious weight problem), but the more weight you’re lugging around, the worse the problem is likely to be.
Taking small, but significant steps to reduce your weight will have an exponentially positive impact on your back pain.
As you lose weight, so the pressure on your joints, ligaments and muscles also reduces. As a result, the issue that’s causing your problem isn’t being aggravated as much, so inflammation and swelling goes down. As inflammation reduces, so your pain lessens. And as all of that takes place, so physiotherapy becomes more and more effective.
Once you have a healthy diet, you can talk to your doctor about safe levels of exercise and begin to strengthen muscle and improve mobility.
By committing to changing the choices you make, you’ll ensure that any physiotherapy you have – like sports physio, for example – is actually working hard to protect you from future injury and discomfort.
None of this is news to you, of course – it’s just common sense, but it often takes a concerted effort to walk the walk rather than just talking the talk.
Our team of friendly therapists are experts in rehabilitation as well as prevention.
If you’d like to speak to us about how we can help you to develop an eating and dietary programme to help resolve back pain – or if you have an injury and you’d like to find out more about how we can help with your recovery, please get in touch.