Back pain

Thirteen million working days are lost each year in Britain as a result of back pain.

The spine being made of 24 fragile bones and associated cartilage and tendons, support the whole weight of the upper body and therefore it is understandable that it sometimes goes wrong.

Back pain is a common condition that affects most adults at some point in their lives.

It is usually caused by muscle spasm and is felt as stiffness. It is mostly confined to the back, but can pass into the buttocks or upper leg. Pain passing below the knee may indicate a more serious cause.

Much back pain could be prevented by sitting correctly, better posture, lifting with straight back and sleeping on a firm mattress.

If the pain has been caused by abuse, for example lifting too heavy weights, be sensible and take things easy. Keeping as active as possible can speed recovery and prevent long term problems.

Treatment of back pain is initially by taking the recommended dose of over the counter pain-relieving medications Take Paracetamol or Ibuprofen to enable you to keep active and continue with normal daily activities. Episodes are usually short-lived.

If the symptoms persist for more than a few days you should consult your doctor.

See your doctor promptly if you have pain down a leg as well, or urgently if the control of the bladder or bowels is affected, or if you get an area of numbness.