When to see a doctor for back pain

We commonly see back pain in our clinics in Truro (Cornwall) and Richmond (Surrey). Our therapists bring a variety of skills and experience to treat your back pain, yet it is important that therapists and clients recognise the importance of when to seek medical advice.

Most back pain can be treated at home with simple analgesia and stretching/exercising without the need to see a doctor.

Lower back pain can be attributed to a number of factors, including physical activity, injury, poor posture, obesity and stress. Even the simplest movements like picking up something incorrectly can cause lower back pain.

NHS England recognizes back pain as the largest single cause of disability in the UK. With current NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) guidelines recommending considering manual therapy for lower back pain. These recommendations include spinal manipulation, mobilisation or soft tissue techniques such as massage. In conjunction with a  treatment package including exercise, with or without psychological therapy.

In 2018, medical paper the Lancet published three papers demonstrating the global challenge that is addressing lower back pain.

When to see a doctor for back painwhen to see a doctor for back pain

You should seek medical attention right away if you have any of the following (known as red flags or warning signs in the medical world):

  • Numbness or tingling around your bottom or genitals
  • Sudden difficulty passing urine
  • Loose control of your bowels
  • Have bladder or bowel concerns
  • Are unsteady when you walk, your legs feel weak or your foot is dropping or dragging
  • Feel unwell
  • unexplained weight loss
  • Have a temperature
  • History of osteoporosis or cancer
  • Back pain is caused by a car accident or a fall from a height
  • Doesn’t improve by simple measures or home treatment
  • you are showing signs of cauda equina syndrome
  • you are suffering from chronic pain and haven’t sought primary care advice
  • chest pain
  • swelling or deformity in your back

Further information is available from NHS England here.

Your treatment at Keheren Therapy will include a free consultation to identify any concerns or red flags including aggravating or relieving factors. Previous treatments and medical history will be taken into consideration and are therapists will recommend onward referrals where appropriate.

We are unable able to arrange diagnostic investigations but our knowledge and experience mean we are able to perform some simple physical examinations to determine the effectiveness of our treatments.

Our primary aim is to relieve muscle tension and muscle spasms that contribute to lower back pain.

Prevention of lower back pain

Arthritis Uk has created some fantastic leaflets demonstrating exercises to relieve lower back pain as well as information as to how to prevent back pain.

Many of our daily activities can cause us to have back pain. In summary, the best ways to prevent back pain are:

Take part in regular exercise: Exercise helps control your weight, promote core strength and keep the muscles surrounding your spine strong.

Lift correctly (or not at all!). Many workplaces now train staff in Manual handling in order to prevent workplace injuries and in turn time off work with back pain. These techniques can be adapted to everyday life in order to prevent injuries.

Make stretching a part of your everyday routine. I often ask my clients to observe their pets and how often they stretch! We now live in an environment where we keep going, yet some simple stretching routines can keep us flexible and prevent injury.

Think posture! It is common knowledge that spending too long sitting at a desk without moving or sitting for long periods in a car can cause injury and back pain. On a manual handling study day, the tutor once asked us to think about why every-time we sat in our cars we needed to alter the position of the rear view mirror. The purpose of the question was to observe that the mirror doesn’t actually move yet our postures change throughout the day depending on if we are tired etc – makes you think doesn’t it?.

Weight loss: Being overweight can put extra strain on our backs particular if we are carrying extra weight around our middles and therefore putting extra pressure on our lower backs. Being overweight can mean that everyday tasks can be harder, therefore putting extra strain on our muscles.