What is back pain?

Back pain – especially lower back pain or backache – is very common. In most cases, the pain will improve within a few weeks but, for people with chronic back pain, it can continue for months, or even years.

At Benenden Hospital, our back pain specialists understand how debilitating back pain can be – stopping you from exercising, disrupting your sleep and affecting your mental health. Our private back pain treatments, carried out by our experienced Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons and Physiotherapists, can help improve your mobility and get you back to doing the things you love.

I have a question about treatment for back pain

What causes back pain?

Back pain or backache is a common symptom of everyday wear and tear and doesn’t normally have a serious cause, such as disease or injury.

Back pain can be triggered or worsened by poor posture or activities at home and work including:

  • Standing for a long time
  • Overstretching when you bend, lift, carry, push or pull incorrectly
  • Driving for long periods or in hunched positions
  • Slouching when sitting
  • Twisting your body repeatedly
  • Repetitive coughing or sneezing
What are the types of back pain?

Lower back pain

This is often the result of an injury, muscle sprain or regular strains. It’s most common in those aged 30 to 50 as the fluid protecting your spine reduces with age and can cause irritation.

Middle back pain

You’ll usually experience middle back pain below your neck and above the bottom of your rib cage. It’s often caused by poor posture, obesity, injury or muscle sprains and strains. Common symptoms include dull aches, sharp stabbing pains and muscle stiffness.

Upper back pain

Pain in your upper back is often a result of poor posture, lifting heavy objects incorrectly, overuse or injury.

Chronic back pain

Chronic back pain develops from short term back pain and can persist for a long time, unlike common back pain and injuries which recover over time.

How can I prevent back pain?

If you have mild pain, or your everyday activities could lead to back pain, there are ways to prevent backache and back problems before they occur.

1. Take regular exercise: walking, swimming, exercise bikes and cycling are great ways of using the muscles in your back.

2. Think about your posture: always hold heavy objects close to your body, if you can’t carry loads on a trolley or bag.

Remember to bend your knees and your hips when lifting. Bending your back can cause damage, especially if you twist at the same time. If you’re carrying shopping or luggage, make sure you spread the load and don’t overdo it, the main cause of back pain is from lifting incorrectly.

Don’t slump in your chair or walk with your shoulders hunched; sit upright with a backrest and relax your shoulders.

3. Take a look at your lifestyle: smoking may lead to degeneration of your discs by reducing the blood flow and being overweight will also cause excess strain on your back.

How can I relieve back pain?

You can try several things to relieve back pain and backache:

  • Special exercises and stretches for back pain such as yoga and Pilates may help relieve pain, as well as gentle walking, swimming or cycling
  • Painkillers can provide short term relief; check with your GP or Pharmacist if you’re unsure
  • Hot baths, water bottles or hot and cold compression packs can provide short term relief
  • Stay positive – if you’re able to stay optimistic, it’ll be easier to keep up with exercises and activities which will help relieve the pain
Why would I have treatment for back pain?

Back pain will usually improve within a few weeks or months. However, if the pain is severe, or doesn’t get better with time, it’s best to explore specialist back pain treatment options.

Physiotherapy is usually the first step in treating back pain. Our Physiotherapists will take the time to talk to you about your back pain, carry out a thorough physical examination and recommend a back pain treatment to suit you.

If you find your back pain or chronic backache hasn’t improved with physiotherapy, your GP may recommend injections for back pain, facet denervation or back surgery.

Contact us about back pain treatment

It's easy to find out more about treatment by giving us a call or completing our enquiry form.