We’ve got your back – FAQ’s with Consultant Spinal Surgeon, Mr James Langdon
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What are the common causes of back pain?

Back pain is very common. Your back is a complex structure made up of bones, muscles, nerves and joints. This can often make it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the pain.

In the majority of cases back pain is not caused by serious damage or disease but by minor soft tissue sprains or strains. Back pain can be triggered by everyday activities, can develop over time, or can come on suddenly for no apparent reason.

Very occasionally back pain can be a sign that there is something more serious going on. If your back pain does not start to settle after 10 days, or if it is getting progressively worse, then you should consult your GP. Whilst we may not always be able to tell you the cause of your back pain, we are very good at excluding serious causes of back pain. The signs that your back pain may represent something more serious are called ‘Red Flags’. The red flags are a history of previous cancer, unexplained weight loss, feeling unwell, change of your bladder or bowel function, pain that wakes you at night, and pain radiating into your arms or legs.

 What should I do if I have back pain?

The most important thing is to stay mobile and avoid prolonged periods of bed rest. It is often helpful to take some regular anti-inflammatories and pain killers. If you are more comfortable then you will be able to engage in more normal movement which will help you get better more quickly. Many people find it helpful to see a physiotherapist, osteopath, or chiropractor.

What questions do you get asked most often?

Back pain can be very severe and therefore is also quite frightening. As the pain is so severe many patients are understandably concerned that there is something seriously wrong with their back. Whilst we are often not able to explain the exact cause of a patient’s back pain, we are very good at excluding serious causes of back pain.

What are the biggest myths about back pain?

Myth 1: Bed rest is good for back pain.

This is not true, movement is much better than inactivity

Myth 2: Pain equates to harm.

No. It is important to try and stay mobile, even if this is causing you pain in your back

Myth 3: I have back pain, therefore I need an MRI scan.

No. The majority of back pain comes from the soft tissues and an MRI scan is not generally helpful in assessing these. If the pain is not improving with time and physical therapy, or if there are red flag signs then you should see your doctor as you may require a scan.

Mr Langdon’s top 5 back pain tips
1.  Stay mobile and avoid prolonged bed rest
2.  Regularly take pain killers
3.  Avoid being in any one position for too long - have regular movement breaks to try and avoid your back from stiffening up
4.  Carry on your normal activities but reduce the intensity
5.  Set up your computer so that the screen is at head height encouraging you to sit up straight and make sure that you have regular movement breaks.

If you're worried about ongoing back pain, book in to see Mr Langdon today by calling our friendly team on 01442 497 254.

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