Tips for Neck and Back Pain
80% of British Columbians Suffer From Back or Neck Pain, Get Some Relief
Back pain affects 80% of people at some point in their lives. And, back and neck pain are among the most widespread reasons patients seek physiotherapy. Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain, and can be acute or chronic. Neck pain, which is closely associated with back pain, occurs when muscles are strained from poor posture or injury, or when joints are worn or nerves are compressed. Both conditions can be debilitating and effect a patient’s physical and mental wellbeing. BC’s physiotherapists want to share their Physio-4 for back and neck pain, 4 tips on how to prevent it, to keep British Columbians moving for life.
“Early access to physiotherapy within 14 days of the occurrence of pain has a significant long-term impact on the patient’s health,” says Rebecca Tunnacliffe, CEO of the Physiotherapy Association of BC, “as it helps to prevent chronic disability. So, if you are suffering from back or neck pain, seeking the guidance of a physiotherapist and following the Physio-4 for Back & Neck Pain is a great first step towards finding pain relief.”
1. Vary your position. Sitting at computers and desks all day puts increased pressure on your spine. After 30 minutes of sitting make sure you walk around to keep the flow of blood and fluids to your spine. Set up a standing workstation to vary your position while working at your computer. Make sure your work desk and computer are set up properly for sitting or standing to encourage optimal posture. Your physiotherapist will prescribe suitable and safe stretches or “pause exercises” and provide tips on how to correctly position yourself in front of your computer.
2. Stay flexible. Optimal spinal health means having flexibility in all directions. If your thorax (upper-mid back and ribcage) has limited rotation movement, more load and stress can be transferred to your low back, neck or other body parts. Check your rotation by sitting in a chair with your arms crossed across your stomach; you should be able to turn equally to the right and left and see behind you easily. If you have an asymmetry between the right and left directions, or reduced motion, your physiotherapist can assess the reason why, mobilize your spinal joints, and give you exercises to maintain your thoracic mobility – essential for a healthy low back and neck.
3. Keep your core in check. Regain optimal control of your deep spinal muscles (core) following an episode of neck or back pain. Your physiotherapist will provide a thorough examination of your spine, provide manual therapy and other treatment techniques, and help you regain any lost mobility by instructing you on how to achieve ideal postural alignment and prescribing exercises that will support your spine.
4. Correct postural habits. Be aware of habitual postures and positions (such as always sitting on one side of the couch, slouching with your feet on the coffee table, carrying your bag/purse always over the same shoulder, sitting cross legged, leaning usually on the same elbow etc.) Habitually poor postures may indicate weaknesses in certain muscle groups or stiffness within the body. Your physiotherapist can assess reasons why you may adopt these positions and how to correct them.