30 May Doctor in the House: How to manage back pain – Switch Health

Nearly 10 million working days are lost each year for adults aged 25-64 due to back pain – and around 80% of us will suffer from back pain at some point in our lives.

The financial cost to the UK economy is estimated to be around £12bn per year, plus there are huge personal and emotional costs.

In BBC One’s Doctor in the House I help 42-year-old Mark, who works in retail. A former athlete, Mark has suffered from back pain for over 20 years and this has caused him significant problems.

Most cases of back pain are self-limiting and probably go within a few weeks. Mark was different.

He had chronic back pain and this had lasted for years. He has had to take time off from work, which has impacted his family’s financial situation, and he’s even had to stay in hospital because his pain has been so severe.

Thankfully, the vast majority of back pain cases have no sinister cause and are called non-specific, and there are a wide variety of therapies that can be useful.

The National Institute for health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines encourage sufferers to continue with normal activities as much as possible. Unfortunately for Mark, this was not possible.

He used to do mixed martial arts classes every week with his son, Kiki, but had to give this up because of his pain. This was upsetting for them both.

After spending time with Mark, I identified some key areas that I felt were playing a role in his back pain – mechanical, psychological and biochemical. My treatment plan involved tackling them all.

Movement specialist

I first examined Mark’s feet and noticed they were not symmetrical – this is like a building with a wonky foundation. I knew that this was likely to be a contributing factor to Mark’s back pain so I took him to see a movement specialist.

He looked at Mark’s full history. Mark had an injury to his right knee and had broken his leg when he was five years old. Both these factors may have contributed to Mark’s back pain.

So what causes back pain?

It is always important to rule out specific causes such as cancer, infections and fractures, so seek advice from a medical professional if you’re concerned.