With this week being National Pain Week 2018, I thought it might be helpful to give some information about what pain (specifically back pain) actually is and attempt to demystify it. Knowledge is power so this article gives some insight into what pain is, why it’s there and what we can all do about it.
It’s estimated that up to 90% of the population will experience back pain at some point in our lifetime. And it is “normal” for that pain to persist for up to 6 weeks. Most of us get the odd ache and pain and within a day or so, it’s resolved. This may not be the case for everyone so there is no need to unduly worry. Often the factors that have caused the pain to begin with have been present long term so the resolution can be slightly longer than many of us anticipate.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of people with back pain that plunges them into chronic, persistent pain but the statistics actually tell us that the vast majority of back pain is not serious, in fact around 99%. The remaining 1% is mostly fractures, and can include cancer, but these a very rare occurrences. So the overwhelming odds are that you’ll recovery fully within 6 weeks and it is not serious – a comforting thought!
Another thing to keep in mind about back pain is that it is no different to any other pain in our bodies such as shoulder, ankle or knee pain although people do tend to worry more about it. This may be due to the proximity to the spine. This fear is what can make pain worse. Pain itself is normal and nothing to be scared of. It is a protective mechanism that has evolved help us out. You would not want to live without it!
We are constantly telling our patients that pain isn’t a good indicator of injury. By this, we mean that you can have loads of pain, but very little damage. We often use the analogy of getting a paper cut or a bee sting – these hurt like hell but they’re not really causing us much damage. So again, please do not worry or become fearful if you’re back is really paining.
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
Our advice would be to see an Osteopath. Osteopaths have the training to carry out thorough examinations to determine if you’re back pain is serious (within that 1% noted above) – crucial for quick referral to a specialist. Our clinical procedures test the nerves and nerve roots as well as muscle strength, sensation and reflexes.
If we find that the pain is just mechanical (eg. joint, muscle, ligament, disc injury) then we can provide you with basic advice such as safe exercises to perform to encourage healing. We also work extensively to identify any aggravating factors, such as work, sitting posture, stress etc. which need to be avoided in the short-term. Learning more about what helps you and what makes you worse is important to help you manage your back pain. Our osteopaths can help you do this. As the title suggests, knowledge really is power – the more you know about pain and your back, the better your recovery. It’s been found that people who feel they need to protect their backs can also have worse outcomes – so arm yourself with knowledge!
THINGS TO REMEMBER ABOUT PAIN:
- Most people experience back pain at some point
- It’s normal for pain to last up to 6 weeks
- 99% of cases of back pain at NOT serious
- Fearfulness or worrying about pain makes for worse outcomes
- Pain is not an accurate indicator or injury
Our osteopaths aim to provide you with the necessary information about your back pain so you can fast track your recovery and get back to doing the things that you love sooner.
Make an appointment today by booking online at: https://www.pakenhamosteopathy.com.au/book-online/ or calling our lovely reception staff on 5941-4157. Or visit http://www.nationalpainweek.org.au/ for more information on pain.