02 October 2017
Back pain can cause many problems for people of all ages across the UK. One of our top Spinal Orthopaedic Consultants, Mr Nana Osei, has answered all the questions you need to know about back pain and how to help treat it.
What causes back pain?
MRI studies demonstrate that the majority of back pain does not have a main source. It is clinically referred to by many names including lumbago, muscle strains, non-specific or mechanical back pain. Back pain is caused when the soft tissues are put under pressure.
Is my back pain serious?
If pain has lasted more than 6 weeks, we would recommend visiting your GP. For the more serious back pain conditions, some symptoms to look out for are swelling, pain high in the back, weight loss, night sweats, being woken from sleep, difficulty urinating or defecating, and numbness around the buttocks. If you are under 20 or over 55 in particular, I’d recommend a visit to your GP.
Why does my back keep “going”?
The spine adjusts to its environment. If you are inactive, your back may “go” when you stand up after driving or first thing in the morning. If you mostly stand, sitting down becomes painful and eventually you may find it difficult to do everyday activities like the washing-up. If your work is physical, downtime is the trigger. These patterns are common for mechanical back pain, and are characterised by overloaded postural muscles, short spinal muscles and spasms.
How can I stop my back “going”?
Regular breaks, painkillers and dynamic exercises all help reduce the risk of your back going. Don’t forget that sitting down only rests your legs, but stresses the spine. Whilst adopting good posture is unlikely by itself to reverse lower back pain, it can reduce the risk of recurrence. Being overweight puts strain on the spine and will eventually contribute to pain. Regular core exercises, good desk posture and stretches are important to maintain spine health.
Will I need surgery?
Generally, surgery is reserved for serious conditions. If you have a painful benign condition (proven by MRI or x-ray guided injections) you may be considered for surgery. However, spinal surgery has risks which must be balanced against expected gains. The range of operations is expanding however the aim remains the same; to provide the best outcome with minimal intervention.
Meet the Consultant
Mr Osei is a specialist Orthopaedic Consultant. After graduating from Oxford University, Mr Osei was awarded with a Bachelor of Medicine and Higher Surgical Training. Since then he has gained extensive experience training at various centres of excellence and visiting leading Orthopaedic consultants across the EU and the US. Mr Osei was later awarded with a year Trauma fellowship from the Royal London and additional management in military casualties during the Gulf War.
Mr Nana Osei FRCS
Consultant Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon
The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.