Experts have said most people suffering with back pain should be remaining active to ease their symptoms.
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) said: “Your back is stronger than you may think.
Most people worldwide will experience back pain during their lifetime.
“It can be disabling and worrying but it is very common and rarely dangerous. The spine is a strong, stable structure and not easily damaged so in most instances it is a simple sprain or strain.
“In these cases – 98 per cent, according to research – people recover reasonably quickly, and many do so without treatment.
“Some people experience repeat episodes, which can be distressing, but again these are rarely dangerous.”
It’s not always possible to identify what is causing back pain – but most of it feels worse when moving, might be associated with feeling stressed or can get better or worse depending on your position.
In very rare cases, there may be something more serious or underlying that requires medical advice.
However the CSP said there are symptoms which could point to a more serious underlying condition.
The society said: “These symptoms are very rare but you should contact a doctor if you experience any of them.”
• Feeling unwell with your back pain such as a fever or significant sweating that wakes you from sleep
• Difficulty passing urine or having the sensation to pass water that is not there
• Impaired sexual function such as loss of sensation during intercourse
• Numbness or tingling in your genitals or buttocks area
• Loss of bladder or bowel control
• Loss of power in your legs.
NHS Choices said: “Very rarely, back pain can be a sign of a serious problem such as a broken bone in the spine, an infection, cauda equina syndrome (where the nerves in the lower back become severely compressed) or cancer.”
Medical conditions which can cause back pain include a slipped disc – which can cause back pain and numbness and tingling, sciatica – which can cause pain, numbness tingling and weakness in the lower back, legs and feet and ankylosing spondylitis – a swelling of the joints in the spine.
Experts said people with back pain should try to stay in work and resume normal activities.
The CSP said: “Avoid bedrest, stay in work and gradually resume normal activities.
“Scientific studies now indicate prolonged rest and avoidance of activity for people with low back pain actually leads to higher levels of pain, greater disability, poorer recovery and longer absence from work.
“In the first few days of a new episode of low back pain, avoiding aggravating activities may help to relieve pain.
“However, staying as active as possible and returning to all usual activities gradually is actually important in aiding recovery – this includes staying in work where possible.”
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