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Back Awareness Week

This week and month we are focussing on back pain. Currently we are in the middle of back pain awareness week (7th-11th October). This is something we at the physiotherapy and rehabilitation clinic are really encouraged by. As physiotherapist we are always trying to promote health and do so by educating our patients about the implications of staying active. This is something that many of us find difficult especially if you have a sedentary job and lifestyle. Similarly if you’re working as a tradesperson and performing many manual tasks it’s about being aware and understanding the little changes you can make to protect and maintain a healthy spine.

Work related musculoskeletal injuries (WRMSI) are at an all-time high, back pain is the most commonly injured area and we know that 80% of people are likely to suffer from at least one episode of back pain in their lifetime. An episode of back pain is therefore not out of the ordinary for most of the population. Whether you’ve had or have not had surgery on your spine, physiotherapists play a vital role in helping to speed up your recovery as quickly as possible. Our expert physiotherapists at the Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation clinic Rickmansworth have helped many people manage and resolve their pain. We also work closely with some of the best orthopaedic consultants around the country with links to back specialists in the private sector and the national orthopaedic hospital in Stanmore. Many of whom visit us to deliver learning and development presentations to staff throughout the year.

The evidence suggests the sooner you seek medical help post onset of symptoms the quicker your return to full function will be. If you ignore and leave your symptoms then inevitably it will take much longer to rectify. Later this month we will be publishing another article where we interview a former patient at our clinic who I’m pleased to say is managing his back condition and has returned full time to a manual occupation. It will be great to get his thoughts, views and opinions for you all to read, keep your eye out for this!

The department for health has recommended that each individual should complete a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. In addition to this figure they have highlighted the importance of extra strength and conditioning sessions (of which we should be doing 30 minutes twice weekly)on top of the 150 minutes already mentioned. This amount at first is quite daunting! How can you achieve this and find the time to complete all the other things that go with modern day life? On one hand finding enough time is challenging, on the other hand if you’re suffering from back pain it can leave you feeling anxious about exercising the right amount. It can be very difficult to know when to start. Professional help is the best way to get you started and rebuilds your confidence to move safely. Hopefully this article can help you with some of the answers to start making little changes to your routine.

It’s a well-known fact that Pilates can be incredibly good for your back and is endorsed by many of our back specialists. An hour of Pilates once a week counts towards the recommended weekly exercise mentioned earlier. We offer several clinical Pilates classes running across the week at different times and levels (beginners, intermediate, advanced). Our physiotherapists have qualifications with the Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute. We have members that have attended the class for over two years and it has now become a way of life for them in order to manage their back pain and stay active. Patients want to look after their back and Pilates ticks all the boxes; it keeps their spine flexible, strong and robust to cope with day to day demands. We have many patients that have previously had surgery on their spine and those that have not so don’t think that once you have a procedure you cannot participate in some capacity. It is a suitable option for most people and 1:1 sessions are available too.

NICE guidelines recommend that if you have back pain you should avoid resting completely. They advise you should “continue (when able) with your normal activities” (NICE 2016). In other words moving little and often trying to stay as active as you can within pain tolerance. Go frequently for little walks; avoid staying in a position for longer than 20-30 minutes. The full guidelines are available on the NICE website.

Back pain awareness week also gives us a chance to address more serious pathology which can present as back pain. Men are recommended to have a routine prostate check in their 40s as an enlarged prostate can masquerade as low back pain. Guys if you haven’t- do so! It takes less than 30 seconds with your GP. Dr Thangarajah from Gade surgery came to visit us and emphasised the importance of raising awareness of getting this simple test that could potentially save your life. Similarly if your symptoms include night sweats, a change in bladder/bowel habits, pins and needles in both legs and genitalia, constant unremitting pain and/or rapid unexplained weight loss then seek medical attention immediately.

Lastly, another big emphasis in October is the Stoptober campaign. This is aimed to challenge people to refrain from alcohol for the entire month and to encourage people to stop smoking completely or move to nicotine replacement alternatives in order to live a healthier life. We all know the benefits of quitting smoking to cardiovascular health but it also has a huge impact on back pain. The small blood vessels which go into each vertebrae help maintain status quo and health of each segment. If blood flow is compromised then less oxygen and nutritional benefit is reduced and your spine is more at risk of pathology. Less blood flow also means when an injury occurs health times can be longer. See the NHS link below which goes into more detail and the Stoptober twitter account for more information, you can create an account on the Stoptober page and they will support you through cessation with daily emails and initiative to keep you motivated if you’re thinking about quitting.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article from the team at the Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation Clinic Rickmansworth.

If you need any further information or have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact us via email or telephone:


Phone:  01923 897514