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Know your back

The bones of the spine and your neck are called vertebrae and they protect your spinal cord.

Between each vertebra is a disk that acts like a ‘shock absorber’. This is very stiff on the outside and jelly-like on the inside.

Many things can cause back pain, such as:

  • poor posture
  • strains to muscles and ligaments
  • wear and tear of joints – if a disc becomes worn or damaged, it might press on a nerve root and cause pain and tingling in your legs.

To help reduce the risk of straining or injuring your back again:

  • Lift correctly. Put one foot in front of the other and keep your back straight. Bend down with your hips and knees and straighten them to get back up again. Hold the object you are lifting close to you.
  • Stand correctly, tucking in your bottom and tummy.
  • Sleep on a bed with a firm base. Get out of bed by rolling on to your side. Then bend your knees and swing both legs out of bed as you push yourself up on your elbow.
  • Sit with enough support for your back and thighs.
  • Relax. Pain makes you tense, which causes more pain. If you try to relax, the tension reduces and so does the pain.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Try to have a healthy balanced diet and take regular exercise. Swimming is a gentle and effective form of exercise for back pain.

You should not:

  • Stoop - Try to make sure that worktops are at the same height as your hips when you are standing.
  • Stay in the same position for too long. Get up, move around; take regular breaks from sitting.

Please remember:

If you have been taught or given advice on back exercises, you should do these as your pain allows. Strengthening your back and tummy muscles will help prevent the condition from reoccurring and prevent stiffness.

When to seek further medical advice:

  • Weakness in arms or legs
  • Incontinence or retention of urine
  • Numbness to the secrum
  • Unexplained weight loss