BACK PAIN

Back pain affects thousands of people, but in most cases is not serious and medical treatment is not always necessary.

MOST BACK PAIN IS CAUSED BY

  • Stiffness or spasm of the muscles caused by sleeping in an uncomfortable position
  • Doing activities you are not used to

OTHER CAUSES

  • Being overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • Incorrect lifting techniques
  • A disc between the base of the spine moving out of position or pressing on a nerve

COMMON BACK PROBLEMS

  • Pain of the upper or lower back
  • Pain spreading from the back of the thigh to the ankle (sciatica)

BACK PROBLEMS CAN BE PREVENTED BY

  • Keeping active
  • Keeping to a healthy weight
  • Sleeping on a firm mattress
  • Lifting heavy weights correctly - crouch down, straighten knees and keep your back straight

TREATMENT AT HOME

  • Stay in bed, but no longer than one or two days
  • Massage the painful area; apply heat
  • Take painkillers
  • Exercise gently

WHEN TO SEEK HELP
If you have symptoms as below you should seek urgent medical advice

  • a fever of 38ºC (100.4ºF) or above
  • unexplained weight loss
  • swelling of the back
  • constant back pain that does not ease after lying down
  • pain in your chest or high up in your back
  • pain down your legs and below the knees
  • pain caused by a recent trauma or injury to your back
  • loss of bladder control
  • inability to pass urine
  • loss of bowel control
  • numbness around your genitals, buttocks or back passage
  • pain that is worse at night
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