There are multiple causes of back pain, and as many as 85% of us will experience back pain in our life time1. Muscle/ ligament strains and intervertebral joint dysfunction are responsible for around 70% of back pain cases. Spondylosis (osteoarthritis/degenerative back disease) accounts for around 10% of cases, intervertebral disc collapse for 6-8% of cases, while referred pain, psychogenic disorders and spinal pathologies contribute to the remainder of back pain cases. While most people recover within 2 – 6 weeks, recurrence is common, occurring in around half of patients, and 2 – 7% of patients will experience chronic pain2. However, there are ways to prevent, treat and manage back pain.

Risk factors

Occupation and age can contribute to a person’s risk of back pain, and the development of chronic back pain. Not surprisingly, work requiring manual labour (heavy lifting, whole body vibration etc.) carries an increased risk of back pain3. Repetitive work, a lack of autonomy and poor job satisfaction also increase the risk of developing back pain, while people working as doctors, lawyers and engineers are in the category of professions that report the least back pain and the least time off work due to back pain.

Increasing age does not appear to have an impact on the number of days off work due to back pain, with one study showing that there is no significant difference in the number of days taken off work due to back pain among 16-64-year-olds4. In fact, over the age of 60, the incidence of acute back pain decreases. In those people who do experience back pain after the age of 60, however, recurrence is likely to be more common and more prolonged.

Preventing back pain

Being aware of the risk factors for acute and recurrent back pain in your life, during work, sport or general activities.

Learning and maintaining the best posture and ergonomics for your daily activities can significantly reduce your risk of experiencing back pain.

Exercise, to maintain a healthy weight, as well as strength and flexibility can also help prevent, treat and manage back pain

Osteopathy for identification and treatment of the stiffness and muscle tightness resulting from daily activities and work, and which can develop into back pain.

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