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Back Care Awareness Week: How to Relieve Pain

Posted by Hannah Ashworth on October 5, 2022

Back Care Awareness Week was established by a charity called BackCare. This year it falls between October 3rd and October 9th.

In 1968, Stanley Grundy, a businessman and philanthropist, decided to set up the BackCare charity with the aim of raising awareness through education and helping people who were suffering. He wanted the public to know what caused back pain, how to reduce back and neck discomfort and what you could do to prevent it, be it therapy, or simply sitting with the correct posture.

An image of a woman sat at a computer desk. She is holding her lower back, presumably from back pain due to posture.

Today, over 50 years after Stanley set up BackCare, the charity remain resolute in their efforts to educate and inform people affected by back pain and to keep on raising awareness. Their aim is to provide both practical and emotional support to people living with back and neck pain, whether it's caused by wear and tear, poor posture, injury, or musculoskeletal disorders such as Scoliosis, Spina Bifida, Arthritis, or other serious underlying health condition such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Osteoporosis and Cancer.

BackCare aim to provide information that prevents unnecessary back pain from happening in the first place. However, whilst prevention is better than cure, they understand that not all back pain is avoidable.

A black and white image of a man with back pain. The painful areas are highlighted in red and he's holding his back to try and get some relief.

A lot of people will experience short lived back or neck pain during their lives, but for others, it will be ongoing and will negatively impact their quality of life, making routine daily activities difficult or impossible to accomplish.

Chronic back issues may result in depression, low self-esteem, unemployment, broken relationships and other issues.

In most cases, back pain doesn’t represent a serious underlying condition, and will normally resolve itself with home treatment in a few weeks. However, if your discomfort does not resolve itself with home treatment, it steadily gets worse, doesn’t improve after resting, the pain is coming from the top of your shoulders, or you have a lump, swelling or temperature, you should make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should call 999 immediately:

· Pain, tingling, weakness, or numbness in both legs

· Difficulty passing urine or loss of bladder/bowel control

· Numbness or tingling around your genitals or buttocks

· Chest pain

· The pain started after a serious accident.

Alongside the advice on BackCare’s website, we at Ability Superstore have put together a list of things you can do to help alleviate some back pain. Why not give these a try if you’re struggling with discomfort? Always take advice before trying new exercises, and if the pain starts to get worse, seek medical attention.

Keep on Moving

The standard advice for back pain used to be bed rest however, this is no longer the case. In fact, quite the opposite.

It has been proven that movement actually supports tissue healing and allows movement to return to the injured part of the back.

A brunette woman in active wear stretching out her back muscles.

Improvement may be slow to start with, but it’s important to keep going as long as the pain is at a tolerable level. It may be helpful to rate your discomfort out of 10 – anything above a 6 and you should reduce the number of times you do that movement, or reduce the speed you move at, to prevent further injury.

Here’s a PDF of exercises to try from BackCare. You can either read this online or print it out as a handy guide…

Exercises for Back Pain - BackCare

Tackle Inflammation

The pain you feel in your back is normally down to inflammation after an injury, sprain, or strain.

GPs recommend that you ice the injury for 24-48 hours, and take anti-inflammatory medication, such as Ibuprofen or aspirin – paracetamol on its own is not recommended for back pain, but it may be used with another painkiller. Always read the instructions on the box the medicine came in before taking anything new.

You can also reduce the severity of inflammation with cold therapy. You can use an ice pack, or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel. Apply the cool compress to the sore area for the first 24-48 hours to reduce pain and swelling. Using a cold compress whilst talking anti-inflammatory medications (Ibuprofen, Aspirin) can help to treat pain more effectively and speed up recovery.

 A group of illustrations of cold packs and how they can be used. They are in varying shades of blue and green.

Treat it at Home

According to the NHS, icing an injury that causes back pain for the first 24-48 hours can actually limit the amount of swelling. Cryotherapy aims to reduce blood flow to injured areas. By narrowing the blood vessels and reducing the blood flow, the inflammation you’re experiencing can also be reduced.

Heat therapy does the opposite. Thermotherapy works to reduce muscle tension and stimulate blood circulation, which then allows oxygen and nutrients to travel to the affected area. This circulation helps improve back stiffness, relieves inflammation and repairs damaged muscle tissue.

A woman holding her sore back. The painful area is highlighted in red

Did you know there are two main types of heat therapy? Moist heat and dry heat – each have their advantages and disadvantages.

Moist heat is better for delivering heat to deep tissue in a much quicker timeframe. Patients also report greater relief from moist heat therapy, as it penetrates more deeply than dry heat and allows for increased blood flow.

Stretch it Out

Did you know that yoga and swimming are low-impact exercises that can actually help to relieve chronic back pain?

BackCare have a list of over 375 Yoga Teachers from the “Yoga For Healthy Lower Back” Institute, and they all provide evidence-based yoga therapy for lower back pain.

Swimming is a fantastic way to relieve back pain, as it introduces exercise into your lifestyle without being too demanding.

Being physically active is important, as recent studies have shown that some types of back pain are caused by a too-sedentary lifestyle, such as working at a desk in an office, working from home and sitting down all day, or slouching whilst watching TV.

An image of a group of people doing yoga to stretch out their backs, to relieve pain.

We spend long periods of time sitting still at out office jobs. Simply getting up every 30 minutes to get a drink, use the bathroom or stretch your back is so important for our back health. Try to schedule regular breaks throughout the day.

Your back loves to stay active, so try simple things such as stretching in your seat when you start to feel stiff or standing up every time you talk on the phone.

Mental Health and Chronic Pain

Dr. David Hanscom is an orthopaedic surgeon with a practice in Seattle, US, and is unusual in his approach to back pain.

Dr. Hanscom was suffering from burnout, which included 16 Neurophysiological Disorder symptoms. He states: “Some of my 16 symptoms included migraine headaches, ringing in my ears, burning on my feet, itching on my scalp, migratory skin rashes, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

An image of a woman struggling with her mental health. She is sat on an armchair and looks unhappy.

As he began to recuperate, Dr. Hanscom discovered that “mental pain and physical pain are processed in the same part of the brain. They’re essentially the same thing.” So, he came up with a system for treating chronic pain by actually treating the emotional and mental components of anxiety and anger. He suggests trying out expressive writing, addressing your sleep patterns and using relaxation techniques.

Ability Superstore has a range of back care and back support products available, and we’ve put a few into this blog post for your consideration. If you’re looking for relief or preventative mobility aids, we’ve got it all and now is a great opportunity to have a look.

Harley V-Shaped Back Support Pillow

The Harley V-Shaped Back Support Pillow is an excellent bedroom aid when it comes to support when sedentary for extended periods. Its long-lasting, washable design provides ideal comfort and durability. You may take this V-shaped pillow to the living room, out and about in a wheelchair, or to your sofa, in addition to your bedroom, for assistance every day. It is filled with fibres for the greatest durability and comfort.

 The Harley V Shaped Back Pillow that can be found on Ability Superstore. This is a fantastic mobility aid for back and neck support.

The Harley V-Shaped Back Support Pillow assists you to sit for longer periods without incurring postural aches and pains. You will find that it becomes comfier to lie down or even sleep as a result of this mobility aid. With its corrective barrier around your neck, you may relax or even sleep without fearing neck and back pain. This is a daily living aid that will provide you with a high amount of comfort, assistance and reassurance if you suffer with postural back pain.

No Bend Pet Bowl

Does the thought of having to fill your pet’s bowl fill you with dread? Do you expect to wince every time you bend down? Worry not, we have the perfect solutions for you.

Introducing the No-Bend Pet Bowl. This Pet Bowl is a simple but effective mobility aid that prevents you from having to bend your back when picking up your pet's food and water bowls from the floor. To access these pet food bowls without bending, you have an innovative "level lift" handle that keeps unevenly weighted bowls balanced as you raise or lower them.

 This is a photo of the No Bend Pet Bowl with the unique Level Lift handle. An ideal mobility aid for disabled people with pets to care for.

The No Bend Pet Bowl is the perfect solution if you have back problems or are unable to bend, as the adjustable handle does the bending for you. All you have to do is raise the bowls to a comfortable level and then fill them from there.

Tubtrug Tidee

Another fantastic pet care product is the Tubtrug Tidee. Whether you're raking wet leaves, animal waste, or compost, the Tubtrug Tidee will make your life so much easier. You can scoop debris from the ground without bending your back and lift it into a wheelie bin or a compost heap with the help of the Tubtrug Tidee.

This is a photograph of the Red Tubtrug Tidee. This is mainly used to clean up animal waste after your pets.

This poop scoop is convenient and simple to clean, as well as lightweight and easy-to-use. The scoop is constructed from long-lasting plastic and the handles from durable anodised steel, making it suitable for use in the backyard, garden, allotment, stables and other locations.

Thermotherapy or Cryotherapy

If you’re looking to relieve chronic pain and improve your back health, we have a number of hot and cold therapy aids that can assist you. Cryotherapy is cold therapy that works to constrict blood vessels and limit swelling, whereas thermotherapy increases blood flow to aid in muscle repair after injury.

Lifemax Heated Back and Seat Massager

The Lifemax Heated Back and Seat Massager delivers gentle warmth and massage to your hips, thighs, upper and lower back. This mobility aid is designed to soothe, relax, and relieve your aches and pains when seated.

The Lifemax Heated Back and Seat Massager is the ideal daily living aid for people who suffer from chronic back issues, or health conditions that cause muscle fatigue, aches and pains, as well as being a great choice for anyone who spends long periods sitting in one position for example, when working, studying, at the office, or in the car.

This is a photograph of a man using the Lifemax Heated Back and Seat Massager. This is a heated pain relief mobility aid.

This heated back and seat massager has five massage motors, which provides a choice of pulse, tapping, rolling, auto, and kneading modes, as well as four levels of intensity. It also provides gentle heat therapy to soothe and relax. The timer function on the Lifemax Heated Back and Seat Massager allows you to set it to 15, 30, or 60 minutes and is mains operated. You may also use the 12v car adapter to power it on the road or for long car trips. The massage and heat can be controlled with a handheld remote control.

Therapearl Hot and Cold Treatment Packs

The Therapearl Hot and Cold Treatment Pack is ideal for relieving back and neck pain that stems from muscle injury or strain. You can either freeze or microwave the pearls depending on if you were injured and you’re looking to reduce swelling, or if it’s a chronic pain issue that you want to get relief from.

This is an image of the Therapearl back wrap. This can be heated or cooled to supply hot or cold pain relief therapy.

These hot and cold packs are mess-free, high-quality packs that may be used on any part of the body for either cryotherapy or thermotherapy treatments. They may be either frozen or microwaved to achieve the optimal temperature. These packs provide cooling pain relief or muscle relaxation for up to 20 minutes, as per doctor recommendation.

Harley Designer Coccyx Wedge

Does your back or shoulder pain prevent you from sitting comfortably on your chair? Are you fed up with trying to find a comfortable position? The Harley Designer Coccyx Wedge might be the solution. This daily living aid will enable you to position your knees lower than your hips, reducing strain on your back.

This wedge will help you to sit pain free as it actively corrects poor posture, the ideal aid to share with you on backcare awareness week. This wedge tilts your pelvis at (8 degrees), positioning your hips higher up than your knees, and taking the strain from your back. The Harley Designer Coccyx Wedge actively promotes good posture and relieves any discomfort you may be experiencing.

 Harley Designer Coccyx Wedge back support mobility aid that is used to support and correct poor posture.

We hope you've found all the tips and tricks here helpful, and that you've enjoyed the education and wellbeing advice shared during BackCare awareness week.