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I have been told by my GP that my back pain is muscular?

I have been told by my GP that my back pain is muscular and the only treatment to help is to strengthen it with weights. Is there anything else that I can do?

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The answer

Your back is a miracle of human engineering. It supports the whole weight of your body, but is flexible enough for you to bend and twist. Your vertebrae surround and protect the vital spinal cord carrying nerve signals from your brain. Squashy disks between the vertebrae provide shock absorption, and hundreds of interconnecting muscles and tough, non stretchy ligaments keep the spine steady and strong. With so many complicated interconnections, it’s hardly surprising that things go wrong, and 80% of people get back pain at some point.

About 95% of cases of sudden onset low back pain are ‘non specific’ – in other words, there’s no serious underlying physical abnormality to account for them. This doesn’t for a moment mean your pain isn’t real, but it is important to rule out other causes, as you have done by getting checked out by your doctor. The stronger the muscles of your low back are, the more support they provide for the other elements of the back, reducing the chance of problems in the future. You can either do this through a group exercise class with a qualified instructor, or using a personal programme of exercise which you can tailor to your needs with the help of a physiotherapist. For chronic low back pain (over 6 weeks), osteopathy, chiropractic or acupuncture are also options which can help.

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