Tim Edbrooke is a leader in the field of sports-related and work-related spinal problems: he lectures nationally on the subject and is a recognised medico-legal expert.
More than 80% of us will suffer back or neck pain during our lifetime. Everyone’s pain is different: for some it comes and goes and has little impact on their lives; for others it is a constant presence impacting on everything they do; and for some it comes as an acute and devastating episode, temporarily causing intense pain and disability.
Just as the pain varies in its nature it can also vary in its origin and where it is felt. Pain of spinal origin may be felt anywhere in the body, and can easily be mistaken for a muscle or joint injury in the arms and legs. It may start after a specific event such as a car accident or an episode of heavy lifting, but more often than not it appears gradually over time and for no apparent reason. Pain is just as likely to be due to sedentary activities such as working at a computer as to something active.
The most important thing is firstly to know where the pain is coming from: it could be a disc, a joint, or a muscle, and secondly to know what you can do to change the pain. A specialist chartered physiotherapist can diagnose and treat the causes of spinal pain using a variety of techniques. Evidence tells us that a combination of manual mobilisation or manipulation, and strengthening and mobilising exercises, in addition to advice on appropriate alterations to posture and lifestyle can get rid of pain, restore normal levels of fitness and activity, and prevent recurrence. Manipulation alone may provide temporary relief, but does not provide a lasting solution.
Workplace factors known to cause and exacerbate low back and neck pain are: poor sitting postures; sustained bending; heavy lifting, and repeated bending and lifting, even when only light weights are involved. Clearly it is possible for any of these to occur in the workplace, and an on-site chartered physiotherapist is best qualified to not only treat, but to put in place measures to prevent recurrence, decreasing time lost from work and ameliorating an employer’s liability for any further injury.