Osteopath looking at someone's backBack pain

Back pain affects up to 80% of us at some point in our lives. The NHS spends more than £1 billion per year on back pain related costs, but even more money is lost through leave of absence in the workplace caused by excessive aches and pains. Your spine is made of solid, bony blocks reinforced by strong ligaments and muscles. It is surprisingly difficult to damage your spine, but if strained, the surrounding muscles and ligaments can cause discomfort and pain.

How can your osteopath help?

Often back pain resolves quickly by itself, but if it persists for more than a few days, an osteopath may be able to help. Osteopaths use a wide range of gentle hands-on techniques. Treatment varies between patients depending on your age, fitness and diagnosis, but often focuses on releasing tension, stretching muscles and mobilising joints - all of which may help to relieve your pain. Before you receive treatment your osteopath and you will jointly decide an appropriate and suitable treatment plan. Occasionally osteopathic techniques can result in an audible 'click' - this is perfectly normal.

Research evidence shows that these manipulations can have beneficial effects, especially in the back, helping you to return to normal activity. About half of those who suffer an episode of back pain will have a recurrence of symptoms within a few years. Your osteopath can give you advice about what to do and how to keep active if your pain does return. Stress can increase the amount of pain you feel by magnifying the effect of tension and muscle spasms. Your osteopath may talk to you about breathing and relaxation exercises to help relieve this tension.

Osteopaths are highly trained professionals who are skilled in diagnosing problems, including those which may require further investigation. Back pain is not normally caused by anything serious, though it is natural to worry about what may be causing your symptoms. Your osteopath will always complete a routine examination that checks for more serious diagnoses and will advise and discuss with you on any further action that might be required.

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