Channel 4’s Live Well For Longer programme on Channel 4 this week looked at one of the most common injuries we see and British people experience – Back Pain.
Back pain is thought to cause 30 million days of sick leave a year, costing our economy an estimated £40 billion. It is thought that up to 80% of us will suffer with back pain at some point in our lives.
The programme compared 3 ‘non-medical’ ways to manage long standing back pain; yoga, physiotherapy and osteopathy. They used a well known, standardised tool to measure levels of pain before and after 2 months of each of the interventions in groups of people who had been suffering with back pain for over a year.
In the Physiotherapy group, the physiotherapist helped to facilitate the return of normal movement and worked on strengthening the spine. It was great to see that the ethos of the physiotherapist is teaching people and giving people information and knowledge that they need to help themselves. This is absolutely fundamental in successful treatment of painful conditions such as back pain.
After 2 months, it was found that Yoga and physiotherapy both helped improve people’s pain by 30-50%. Osteopathy reduced pain by a third on average. All 3 groups of people experienced a decrease in their back pain, demonstrating that with time, investment and commitment, there can be huge improvements in pain. The programme obviously only looked at very small sample sizes, but what it demonstrated that there is a positive way to tackle back pain.
The ket message to take away for people with long term back pain, is that you can’t expect short term fixes. People looking for help with back pain need to be realistic – if you’ve had back pain for a long time, there isn’t a quick and easy fix (that so many people seek!). As the Physiotherapist said, retraining muscles can take at least 6 weeks. It’s the dedication, positive attitude and consistency in investing in your body and finding something that works for you that will often be the success!