Back Pain -- Painful and Costly to the Individual and Society -- by Susan Bunce, Osteopath at Broadwater Osteopathic Practice

Nov 10, 2015, 11:30 ET from Broadwater Osteopathic Practice LTD

WORTHING, England, November 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --

It is said that approximately 40% of the population will suffer with back pain each year. Of this 40%, most will have symptoms that settle within 6 weeks, but around 8% will continue to develop chronic back pain. Sufferers of chronic back pain, alongside experiencing discomfort, also account for approximately 80% of the social and healthcare costs. The NHS spends more than £1 billion a year on back pain related costs and the private sector a further £565 million. Back pain is the 2nd most common reason for absenteeism from work, second only to stress.

So what can we do about it to help ourselves and also reduce healthcare costs?

The main factor in this, I feel, is looking at prevention of back pain and also early intervention. We know that 85% of back pain seems to occur for no clear reason. We also know that there are factors beyond our control which can exacerbate the likelihood of getting back pain like age and genetic factors. There are however some we can look to improve; obesity, smoking, repetitive lifting, bending, pulling, twisting, static and poor postures, stress, depression and anxiety. This is not to say we can remove these, but we can potentially improve these factors. Looking at our lifestyle and addressing these factors can greatly lessen the chances of developing back pain.

Early access to treatment is also key. Keeping people mobile and optimistic from the outset really is one of the best investments we can make. According to the NICE guidelines people with non-specific low back pain should have the opportunity to make informed decisions about their care and treatment, in partnership with their healthcare professionals. NICE recommend that patients should be offered an exercise programme, a course of manual therapy including spinal manipulation, such as osteopathy or a course of acupuncture as treatment options. They highlight a combined approach in dealing with the physical and psychological effects of pain.

In private practice, as an osteopath, I would say that around 70% of my day is spent dealing with the effects of back pain. Hands-on treatment, combined with exercise and lifestyle changes are the mainstay of what I do in practice. Educating people is the key. By understanding how the body works, how body and mind work together and the potential contributing and maintaining factors to pain, patients find it much easier to then address. At my practice we offer a whole package of care from osteopathy, acupuncture and massage to hypnotherapy and stress management.

One thing that I hear more often than not from patients is that they feel they "are too old for treatment", that "nothing can be done" or they are stuck with it and in a trap of "just having to take pills" to deal with the pain. Of course there will be times when a patient needs more than I can offer and I do refer onwards accordingly, but the vast majority of patients do improve with treatment and can resume a normal healthy, active lifestyle. My aim is to keep people doing the things they enjoy for as long as they possibly can.  


Susan Bunce


SOURCE Broadwater Osteopathic Practice LTD