Modern sedentary lifestyles are a cause for an increasing incidence of back and neck pain.
Neck problems can cause pain in your neck, shoulder, mid-back, arm or head. A back problem can cause pain in your back, groin, hip or legs.
These symptoms may be caused by an injury to any of the structures around your spine:
How can we help?
If you are suffering from pain around your upper or lower back, neck or shoulder areas, especially if it is persistent for more than 3 months, an assessment will determine the cause of the pain and the best way to manage it. Serious conditions can be excluded through X-rays or MRIs if necessary and following these investigations, the appropriate treatment can be started.
Back and neck pain are very often muscular in origin and may be caused by sitting for very long periods or lifting heavy objects repeatedly. Lack of exercise and stretching, as well as excess bodyweight and poor diet often make things worse. Stress also very commonly affects this type of pain by causing stiffness and spasms in the muscles.
An initial assessment by a doctor will determine the most likely cause of the pain and advice is given on how this can be managed. Very often, diet and lifestyle is explored to see if there are any areas that can be improved. Adequate pain relief is provided and a plan of action is discussed. Muscular back and neck pain would also need some input from a physiotherapist who will release the muscle tension and advise on the best stretching and exercise program for quick and effective recovery.
What will a Physiotherapist do?
A Physiotherapist will:
• Perform a detailed assessment, taking a history of your symptoms and a physical examination.
• Give a diagnosis of the exact site of symptoms and the underlying causes
• Plan a treatment programme to suit your needs. This treatment programme will be discussed with any other relevant team members to ensure high-level and holistic care.
• Your physiotherapist will monitor your symptoms at each visit and will progress your treatment programme accordingly. If appropriate, your physiotherapist will liaise with other members of the team. You will be advised on return to work, sport, daily activities and given advice on preventing recurrence of your pain.
What are the treatments?
Specific treatment of spinal pain could include some of the following:
Manual techniques – manipulation, traction or mobilization of the joints in the spine
Soft tissue techniques – massage, frictions, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, trigger point therapy, acupressure, acupuncture and stretching.
Stretching, strengthening and postural exercises – a specifically tailored exercise programme targeting your problems. Also, group exercise interventions may be appropriate such as Pilates or the Alexander technique.
Biomechanical assessment and prescription of orthotics (customized insoles).
Prescription and fitting – of collars, pillows, spinal supports, lumbar rolls and corrective seating.
Assess and give advice – on ergonomics (working postures) to reduce unnecessary load on your spine.