Back pain experienced more frequently in the UK

More people in the UK  are experiencing back or neck pain each week than they were five years ago according to new research just released from the British Chiropractic Association (BCA).

The consumer research, which looked at trends from the past five years, revealed the number of people experiencing back or neck pain on a weekly basis has risen from 40% to 49%. Moreover, two thirds (65%) of us now experience back or neck pain each month, up 16% over the same period.

The findings, which come ahead of BackCare Awareness Week (8 – 12 October), also show that most common triggers of back or neck pain, according to people experiencing the condition, have changed over this period.

The number of Brits who reported sitting still for long periods of time as a trigger for their back or neck pain has risen from a third (35%) to almost half (45%). This is also reflected by the number of people who blame their jobs for their back or neck pain, with a fifth now pointing to work as a key trigger.

Sport and exercise has also made it in the top five triggers, kicking housework and DIY out. Sleeping remains a key trigger for both sexes, particularly women, with 11% more reporting this as a cause of their back or neck pain than men.

While the rates of back or neck pain have fallen slightly for both genders, women remain 7% more likely to experience the condition.

Commenting on the findings, Catherine Quinn, Chiropractor and President of the British Chiropractic Association says:

“Back pain is a relatively common condition which is usually not serious and can be easily prevented, so these findings should come as a wake-up call to all of us! Sport and exercise making it into the top five triggers for back pain, concerns me as staying active is one of the best ways to stay strong and reduce your chances of back pain. In my experience, back pain from sport often comes when people do not take time to build up their intensity and instead, lift the heaviest weight they can find or go straight on a 10K run when they are not ready to. NHS programmes such as the ‘Couch to 5K’ are great ways for people to gradually build up their activity levels.
“There are a number of very simple steps everyone can take to protect themselves from some of the most commons triggers of back and neck pain and to help combat the effects of sitting still for long periods. For those Brits who are experiencing back or neck pain on a weekly basis, I would urge you to consider incorporating more exercise and general movement into your routine where you can.”

Catherine shares her top tips for preventing regular back or neck pain this BackCare Awareness Week:

1. Take a break: When sitting for long periods of time, whether you’re at work, driving or catching up on box sets, ensure you stand up and move around every 30 minutes. Simple activities such as stretching and shoulder shrugging can also help to keep your body moving when you’re sitting for longer periods of time
2. Stay active: Physical activity can be beneficial for managing back pain, as a stronger body can cope better with the demands you make of it, however it’s important that if this is of a 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!
3. Work in comfort: When at work, make sure your desk is set up to support a comfortable position. This is different for everyone so if you don’t feel comfortable in your current set up, try altering the height of your chair or screen
4. Ditch the tech: The head is a heavy weight, so sitting with it forward of your body when using smartphones or tablets can put unnecessary strain on your neck and back. When using this technology, try keeping your head straight above your body, or position your screen in front of you so you’re not compelled to look down
5. Straighten Up!: The BCA has created a programme of 3-minute exercises, Straighten Up UK, which can be slotted in to your daily schedule to help prevent back pain by promoting movement, balance, strength and flexibility in the spine

The BCA recommends that, if you are experiencing pain for more than a few days you should seek professional help, for example from a chiropractor, who can assess you and help you to get moving again without pain.