Back Pain Sunderland


Back pain is a very common problem in Sunderland as it is in the UK – with eight out of ten people suffering from it at some point during their lives.

It can affect anyone, at any age, and is usually caused by a sprain or a strain of the muscles, ligaments, joints or discs in the back. Most of us know that this can be very painful, and inconvenient, but it is not serious.

We often call back pain acute or chronic, depending on how long you have had the pain. Acute pain is shorter lived and more common. We call back pain chronic once you have had it for more than 3 months. Managing back pain well prevents people developing chronic back pain.

Most people experience back pain on one or both sides of their backs but may also feel it around their hips and buttocks and occasionally into one or both thighs. But with simple advice, most people will see a great improvement in their back pain within two weeks.

Chronic back pain can last much longer and usually requires treatment such as medication or physiotherapy.

In most cases though, your back will heal itself. It is important that you keep active and continue as normal, but if your pain is severe and persistent then you should seek medical advice for diagnosis and the appropriate treatment.

Dealing with Back Pain

Acute back pain is usually short-lived and most people will see a huge improvement in their back by doing the following:

  • Taking regular pain relief like paracetamol, to allow you to move normally.
  • Taking anti-inflammatory tablets like ibuprofen as well if you need to.
  • Continuing with your day-to-day life as much as possible.
  • Making sure you get a good balance of rest and activity

If you are not starting to get better in 1 week, or your pain is severe see your GP. Remember pain does not mean you are damaging your back, it will hurt as you move back to health.

There is more information in our patient information leaflet, which you can access by clicking on the link to the right.

Keep Active

When you have back pain it is crucial for you to keep moving.

Movement is something you can do that contributes to your back getting better. Part of that process is allowing time for the body’s natural healing to occur and this will be much better if you continue to move, even if this causes some discomfort.

It will not do any harm – remember, the spine is designed to move. So download our exercise advice sheet to the right for more information about how you can get moving back to health.

Warning signs

Rarely, the discs in your back can press on part of the spinal cord that is responsible for bowel and bladder function. If you suffer from any of the symptoms below, please refer to the patient information leaflet – click here.

  • Loss or decreased sensation around the buttock area.
  • Inability to hold on to your urine or bowels.
  • Inability to pass urine or get an erection.
  • Pain into both legs.
  • Progressive weakness in the legs

At Work

You are better continuing with activity, including work, even if you are still in some pain. People who remain active have far better outcomes than those who don’t.

If you are struggling with back pain:

  • Inform your manager
  • Seek professional advice
  • Keep mobile
  • Stay at work as long as possible, this helps with your rehabilitation and recovery

Use pain killers to help you carry on – it’s the movement that will get you better, and the pain killers will allow you to move by masking the pain.

If you have to go off work sick use that time to get your back better – this might mean going out for walks, to the shops, etc. Don’t feel that just because you are off work you should not keep active – you must!

Stay in touch with your workplace. Hopefully your employer will be trying to keep in touch with you as well. Be open-minded about getting back to work as soon as possible. This can be facilitated by changes to your normal job role, hours and even where you work.

The longer you remain off work the more difficult it becomes to get back to work. The day an individual goes off sick (whatever the reason) they have about a 1% chance of still being off work a year later.

Once someone has been off work for six weeks they have a 20% chance of long term disability. This increases to 50% if they have been off for six months. People off work for a year are unlikely to work again for several years.

Avoiding Back Pain

This section of the website is designed to provide you with advice on how to prevent and control back pain.

Back pain can happen for many reasons, such as sitting, standing or moving incorrectly at home or at work. However back pain often occurs for no obvious reason whatsoever.

It can be very painful and upsetting, and you may feel as though you are unable to carry out your normal activities.

However, most cases of back pain can be treated by yourself, by simply keeping active and continuing with your day to day life.

It is also possible to prevent back pain before it starts, by following a few easy steps to make sure your back is kept in the best position possible.

Here you will find some short videos and advice that can help you to avoid back pain both at work and at home.

At Work

Many people spend at least eight hours a day at work so it is important to look after your back during this time. There are all sorts of forces, movements and postures that can cause your back to ache, but there is a lot that you can do to protect your back.

  • Avoid positions in which your back is bent and twisted at the same time.
  • Avoid reaching – both when lifting and when carrying out other tasks.
  • If you have to lift things at work plan the lift first and use good technique.
  • If you work in a static job, seated or standing make sure your work set-up is correct for you.
  • Avoid prolonged static postures, for example sitting at a telephone station or VDU – take regular postural breaks.
  • Use equipment provided to reduce the load on your back.

At Your Desk

Working at a desk all day can take its toll on your back.

Simply by having your desk set up incorrectly you can cause an episode of back pain – which can make working feel almost impossible.

  • Try to have your computer screen at eye level in front of you and your chair directly facing it, to avoid unnecessary twisting.
  • Have your mouse and keyboard within easy reaching distance so that you don’t have to stretch to use them.
  • Take regular breaks and get up and walk around the office regularly, to stretch out your muscles and give your back a rest.


Lifting & Handling

When lifting and handling heavy goods, it is important that you take extra care with your back.

It’s so easy to strain the muscles in your back by bending down and lifting an item – and it can cause back pain to come on quite suddenly.

  • Whether it’s heavy stacks of paper in an office or machinery – always use your knees to bend down and lift – instead of your back.
  • If possible, use lifting and moving equipment such as a trolley to aid you.
  • Always test the weight of the item you are about to lift by pushing it with your foot. This way you know what to expect.
  • Always plan ahead to ensure that where you are moving the item to is clear and uncluttered – this avoids having to hold the item for longer, causing unnecessary strain.

lifting and handling – click on You Tube symbol to watch in full screen


On Your Feet

If your job requires you to be on your feet all day, then it’s likely you will at some point have suffered from aches and pains.Standing is generally better for your back than sitting as it puts less pressure on your lower back, but it is important to try and keep moving and walking around and to sit every so often.

  • As with all jobs, getting regular exercise and keeping fit outside of work will greatly improve the strength of your back and reduce your chances of getting back pain.
  • Take regular breaks to stretch your muscles – this will prevent stiffness and keep your circulation going.

At Home

Whether you’re out in the garden or cleaning the house – what you get up to at home can often have an impact on your back.Everyday activities such as chasing after the children, hoovering the carpet or weeding the flower bed can result in you carelessly twisting and bending your body, often resulting in back pain.But by following some simple tips and advice, you can keep your back in check and prevent any pain from happening.

Gardening & DIY

For many people, gardening is an enjoyable hobby that allows them to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and get back to nature in the great outdoors.

But without proper care and advice, gardening can take its toll on your back and cause you pain and discomfort.

Gardening is one of the most common causes of back pain in the UK, as people carelessly bend, twist and stretch their backs without realising.

For detailed advice on avoiding injury when gardening download our information leaflet on the right. But key general tips are:

  • Take a moment to warm up
  • Digging – take a wide stance and let your leg muscles do the work. If necessary, lever the spade using your foot if the soil is dense and heavy.
  • Moving tubs – roll them onto their outer rims to avoid lifting

If carrying can’t be avoided, the following tips should help:

  • Ensure you’re wearing loose, casual clothing and sensible shoes
  • Lift close to the body and pick up and set down using the powerful leg muscles. Pull your tummy in and breath out on lifting
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Plan movements of compost bags/soil/chippings using wheels wherever possible
  • Wheelbarrows – these are hard to use safely so don’t overload

When bending:

  • Avoid stooping
  • Squat if you can, or bend your knees as far as possible with one foot in front of the other but keeping your back straight.
  • Otherwise go down on one knee
  • If you are tired, STOP for a break and a reverse stretch instead of pressing on


Around the House

How many times does it happen? You are carrying the shopping in, cleaning the windows, making the bed or lifting your baby into the car seat and …… ouch!

Back pain affects about 98 per cent of us at some time, but by following a few simple tips you can ensure that you can do those everyday household activities without pain or discomfort.

Keeping Active

Regular exercise is vital in keeping back pain at bay by toning your muscles, allowing your body to support your back much better.

People with good fitness levels tend to experience less back pain, so get out of the house and go walking, swimming or cycling for half an hour a day. Exercise classes such as yoga or pilates are also great for your back, and visiting the gym can also help.

Keeping active is also good for you if you’re already suffering from back pain. Even if exercising feels painful, it will not harm your back and keeping active is one of the best ways to allow your back to recover.

However, it is also important to take care when exercising, as a careless twist, bend or pull could strain your back and result in an episode of back pain.

  • Warm up – Always make time to warm up before any exercise. Gently stretch both your upper and lower body to get your circulation going and to loosen up your muscles. If you already have back pain take extra care not to overstretch.
  • Good posture – If you are lifting weights at the gym, make sure you bend your knees and use your leg muscles to lift – not your back.
  • Correct equipment – It is crucial when exercising you have the correct equipment and clothing. For example, if running, always wear proper running shoes that fit properly. Also, if you are playing tennis or badminton, make sure you buy a racket that is not too bulky or heavy for you.
  • Cool down – Gently stretching your muscles after exercise is just as important as warming up. It loosens your muscles, helping to prevent stiffness later.
  • Early intervention – If you do seriously hurt your back whilst exercising, make sure you visit your GP as soon as possible. Treating sport injuries at a later date is much more difficult.