State of the nation’s back health revealed
New consumer research from the British Chiropractic Association launched to mark Chiropractic Awareness Week has found significant differences in the number of people experiencing back or neck pain across Britain, with rates between regions varying by more than 17%.
The research revealed that people in Northern Ireland are suffering the most, with 57% saying they currently have back or neck pain. Those in the South East appear to have the best back or neck health, with only 40% of people complaining of pain.
These figures are in comparison to the national average of 44%, representing a 12% rise in back and neck pain nationally since 2017.
Those in the Midlands are developing back or neck pain the earliest – with a huge 70% of residents experiencing back or neck pain by the age of 30, compared to just under half (48%) of people in the East of England.
Londoners are the most likely to take proactive steps to prevent back or neck pain before it occurs, closely followed by those in the South West.
The results also highlighted that:
• Scots are suffering most frequently with a third experiencing back or neck pain on a daily basis, compared to just 17% in London
• Lifting and carrying was reported as the top back or neck pain trigger for all regions, followed by sitting still for long periods
• The majority of regions said that back or neck pain was most likely to prevent them sleeping, followed by exercising
Catherine Quinn, British Chiropractic Association President, comments on these findings:
“This suggests the occurrence of back and neck pain has increased over the past year, and it appears we should all be following the lead of the South East where they seem to be managing this best. Taking simple steps can be really effective in reducing your experience of back pain”
“It’s interesting to note that certain regions are seeing back and neck pain among a much younger age group. Back and neck pain can of course develop at any age and is usually not serious, however this could be a sign that modern and increasingly sedentary lifestyles are impacting on the younger populations back health.”
“Whatever your age, my top piece of advice for those experiencing back or neck pain would be to get out and about and ensure you are incorporating physical activity into your daily routines. There are also a number simple exercises and small changes you can use on a daily basis to prevent pain, for example, putting both hands on the back of your head, pushing your elbows back and then shrugging your shoulders whilst sitting or standing are easy ways to stay active – these may sound basic but I know from my patients that they really work!”
This Chiropractic Awareness Week (9-15 April), the BCA has developed a map highlighting the differences across the country, revealing who’s doing the most – or least – to look after their back and neck health.
The British Chiropractic Association offers its top tips for preventing and managing back and neck pain based on the nation’s top back and neck pain triggers:
• Get on up! Sitting in the same position for long periods of time, for example whilst scrolling through social media feeds, spending hours watching shows back to back or even completing revision could be impacting young people’s necks and spines. So it’s important that they take regular breaks, we recommend stopping to stand up and move around every 30 minutes.
• On your feet! Your body is built for movement, and new research has shown that staying active is key to helping reduce back and neck pain. The British Chiropractic Association has developed a free programme of simple exercises, Straighten Up UK, which can be incorporated into your daily routine to promote movement, balance, strength and flexibility.
• Stay active: It’s important that if you are exercising at moderate to high intensity that you warm up and down properly to get your body ready to move! If a previous injury is causing you pain, adapt your exercise or seek some advice. Activities such as swimming, walking or yoga can be less demanding on your body while keeping you mobile.
• Lifting and carrying: With all regions reporting this as a back-pain trigger, it’s important to pay attention to your back when lifting and carrying. Don’t be scared to lift or carry but remember to bend from the knees, not the waist when lifting heavy items. Face in the direction of movement, and take your time. Hold the object as close to your body as possible, and where you can avoid carrying objects which are too heavy to manage alone, ask for help or use the necessary equipment.
• Sleep comfortably: If back or neck pain is preventing you sleeping, your mattress could be contributing to the problem. The Sleep Council recommends buying a new mattress at least every 7 years. Mattresses lose their support over time, so if you can feel the springs through your mattress, or the mattress is no longer level, your mattress is no longer providing the support you need. Everyone has different support requirements, so when purchasing your mattress ensure it is supportive for you. If you share a bed and require different mattress types, consider two single mattresses which are designed to be joined together, to ensure you both get the support you need.