Back rehabilitation

Back pain is a common complaint among people of all ages, such is the strain that we put on our backs every day.

Low back pain (lumbago) causes more disability than any other condition, affecting one in ten people and increasingly common as you ascend age groups.

It is estimated that in the UK, low back pain is responsible for 37% of all chronic pain in men and 44% in women and the total cost to the economy is some £12 billion per year.

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Symptoms & Diagnosis

The single most frequent cause is a torn or pulled muscle or ligament. This can happen suddenly or develop slowly over time through repetitive movements. Sometimes back pain is due to a condition affecting the spine such as slipped (prolapsed) disc – a disc of cartilage in the spine pressing on a nerve – sciatica (irritation of the nerve that runs from the lower back to the feet), ankylosing spondylitis (swelling of the joints in the spine), or spondylolisthesis (a bone in the spine slipping out of position). Occasionally, it is the manifestation of a serious problem such as cauda equina syndrome, where the nerves in the lower back become severely compressed. 

In most cases (termed “non-specific back pain”) it’s impossible to isolate the cause. A scan is unlikely to indicate the problem since in patients over a certain age, there will be radiographic changes whether the patient is experiencing pain or not.

Most episodes of back pain do not last long, and most episodes resolve with primary care management, without the need for investigation or referral to specialist services. But a significant minority of people say they have persistent back pain of at least moderate intensity a year after an acute episode needing care.

One of the biggest challenges with low back pain is identifying risk factors that might predict when a single back pain episode will become a long-term, persistent pain condition.

Treatment & Rehabilitation

All physiotherapy treatment is evidence-based. Patients coming to Circle with lower back pain will first be assessed, then have a series of goals drawn up for rehabilitation. A one-to-one manual physiotherapy programme could first include massage and mobilising joints and muscles. Then a programme of exercise might focus on use of Circle’s state-of-the-art Nordic Health Spinal equipment, precisely targeted at strengthening the spinal stability muscles, alongside Pilates. The treatment plan will greatly depend on a practical analysis and assessment of the patient’s problems.

Circle’s carefully conceived Rehabilitation programme, built on VAMED’s Northern European model, offers a swift path to recovery and return to being fully active. Our team of consultants and therapists will assess your needs to create an individual therapy plan for your stay. This includes up to three hours of therapy per day, and your plan will be adjusted day by day according to your progress.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends

  • Exercise in all forms – eg stretching, strengthening, aerobics or yoga – as a first step in treating low back pain
  • Encouraging people to continue with normal activities as far as possible
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin should be tried before paracetamol. Weak opioids such as codeine should only be used if NSAIDs have proved ineffective
  • Combined physical and psychological treatments (talking therapies) for people who have not seen an alleviation of their pain with previous treatments

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