Did you know this week is Spinal Health Week? The week itself runs from the 22nd to the 28th of May and looks to raise awareness of chronic back pain and the steps that can be taken towards better back health.
Why dedicate a whole week to spinal health? Well 1 in 6 Australians experience chronic back pain and of the 3.7 million that do suffer chronic back issues, many are unable to engage in active, healthy lifestyles and can suffer poor quality of life.
What are some of the common causes of back pain?
Unfortunately, back pain can be caused by a number of things and in some circumstances, can be hard to pinpoint. Your back is a complex structure and pain in one area can be referred from another.
Causes of back pain can include:
- Lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling incorrectly;
- Poor posture and slouching;
- Bending or twisting awkwardly;
- Standing or bending for long periods;
- Driving for long periods without a break, especially if in an awkward position;
- Overuse of the muscles, typically through sport or repetitive movements (RSI).
Back pain can unfortunately also be the unwanted consequence of an accident, such as a car accident, slip and fall, repetitive strain injury or work accident.
In terms of what is causing your back pain it is always best to consult your GP and potentially a physio.
What can you do for your back pain?
This will depend on your injury and the advice you receive from your GP and/or physio. Often, treatment or management of back injuries and related pain can include:
- Medicine: this could include paracetamol, anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and creams, lotions or gels with anti-inflammatory ingredients. Depending on the cause of your pain, your doctor may prescribe further medication for pain management and treatment of your injuries.
- Professional treatment: such as physiotherapy could be recommended by your GP to assist with treatment or management of your back pain. Your physio may then also recommend stretches and exercises to assist with your recovery and management of your pain. If your back pain isn’t linked to a specific injury, they may be able to identify a cause such as posture or over-exercise.
- Self-help: this relates to things you can do to assist with your own recovery or pain management and includes things such as stretches and exercises (as advised by your treating professional), application of heat and/or cold packs and avoiding heavy lifting while pain is acute.
- Surgery: Unfortunately this may be the last resort for some back pain/injuries where further intervention is needed.
You can find further information about pain prevention and management here but always consult your own GP or other treating professionals for advice specific to your pain and/or injury.
What if you have a back injury because of an accident?
Depending on what happened, you may be eligible to claim compensation for your back injury. The type of claim you will be able to make will depend on what caused your injury – whether it was from a car, work or public place accident, or potentially due to medical negligence.
If your back injury was caused by the negligent action or inaction of another party, then you may be entitled to make a claim. Your claim will help to provide you with compensation for your injuries –typically providing for costs relating to treatment and management of your back injury, including medicines and professional treatments as mentioned above.
This compensation also looks to cover any economic loss you may encounter if you need time off work after your injury. If your back injury is severe and you are no longer able to work because of it, you may be entitled to make a TPD claim.