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Keith asked...

I've got some chronic lower backpain.

I've got some chronic lower backpain that has developed into acute. What is the best way to treat it for once and for all?

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The answer

Lower back pain is one of the commonest reasons for time off work in the UK. Unfortunately, there is no reliable way to get rid of it permanently. However, depending on the type of pain you have, there are many options you can try to reduce the risk of getting problems in the future.

The complicated scaffolding of back bones – your vertebrae – surrounds and protects 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. But with so many bits involved, there’s plenty to go wrong, so it’s hardly surprising three-quarters of us get low back pain at some point. Doctors use to recommend strict bed rest when suffering an acute episode of back pain, but we now know that this can do more harm than good.

I recommend that you stay as active as possible and keep up your usual activities as much as you reasonably can. If you have significant lower back pain, you should be referred to a physiotherapist who can advise on exercises to help strengthen your back. You should keep doing these exercises in the long-term to reduce the chance of suffering in future. In addition, many people find that Pilates helps improve their posture and staves off long term problems. You should also consider your posture at work – many people now spend long hours at their computers, and the position and height of your chair, workstation and computer can make a huge difference to your risk of long-term problems.

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