This guide provides six simple steps to follow when your back pain persists for a couple of days. If you suffer from occasional spinal pain, you may concentrate only on steps 1, 5 and 6.

Step 1: Identify the reasons for back pain

Feeling any type of pain in the spine, muscle or head is certainly not pleasant. However, it has one positive aspect: it is a message from your body telling you that something wrong is happening. It gives you a chance to change unhealthy habits such as sitting for hours in front of the computer, a non-ergonomic way of lifting heavy weights, or a stressful lifestyle. When you get a signal in the form of pain, first of all you need to understand what the primal cause is.

Below you will find the most common reasons for back pain.

  • Insufficient movement
  • Microdamage of intervertebral discs
  • Movement monotony in physical work
  • Genetics determining disc endurance
  • Congenital spinal flaws and suffered injuries
  • Posture flaws
  • Lack of sleep
  • Obesity
  • Psychological problems
To permanently cure spinal pain, firstly you need to identify and remove the cause. You need to ask yourself an honest question- how well do you look after your spine? Your doctor will help you to answer that question.

Step 2: Consult your doctor

If spinal pain lasts for more than a couple of days, you should see your General Practitioner (GP). They will examine you and if your condition requires it, they can direct you towards a specialist. These specialists include neurologists, orthopaedists, and rheumatologists. If you think that your condition requires a specialist please ask your GP to refer you to one. The most specialist group that is consulted are neurologists. Your specialist will complete diagnostic examinations, from which the results will be the main indication in defining the reasons for back pain in your specific situation. Based on the test results, a treatment specific to your condition is defined.

Step 3: Make the necessary diagnostic tests

Reasons for back pain can be diagnosed by various tests. Three of the most popular are described below.
  • X-Ray Picture (Rentgen Radiological Test) Imaging test during which the body is X-rayed, allowing us to discover vertebrae disfiguration and disfigurement from diseases. Due to the dangers of this test it should not be conducted too often.
  • CT Scan This scan takes pictures from a number of angles to create a spherical image of the examined area. As with the X-Ray, it should not be conducted too often.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI Scan) This imaging test can tell us the most about the condition of the spine. It uses nuclei magnetic resonance phenomenon to create very specific images of the inside of the body. The test takes about 20 minutes during which the patient lies still. Results in the form of images and professional description need to be consulted with a specialist, as they are the only people who can interpret them correctly.

Step 4: Follow your doctor’s and physiotherapist’s recommendations

With your test results in hand you should go and see your specialist again. They will decide which treatment will be the most suitable for you. Additionally the doctor can prescribe you painkillers and put you on sick leave, if necessary. Now you can start rehabilitation. With your test results go to see an experienced and knowledgeable physiotherapist who will help you to overcome your health problems. A good physiotherapist will:
  • apply the treatment recommended by the doctor, and may recommend additional treatment
  • assign proper exercises to carry out at home
  • instruct you how to properly conduct daily activities
  • instruct what to do when the pain reoccurs
Your work with your physiotherapist will result in an improvement in your overall health condition. If the treatment does not show any improvement in your physical condition, inform your physiotherapist about it. If there still is no result after intervention, consider changing the therapist.

Step 5: Applying the right technique in daily activities

Prevention is the most important recommendation which can help you avoid spinal pain reoccurrence. Daily activities which we normally do not pay much attention to are those which influence our spine the most. Applying small changes in the wider perspective can bring surprising results. The condition of both your spine and your whole organism will improve. Here you can find some rules for the prevention of spine conditions:

  • if you work with computers every day, get up every 45 minutes and do a couple of quick stretching exercises (or just simply stretch yourself)
  • be conscious of the correct body posture
  • try to lift heavy objects using the appropriate technique (squat and pull the object towards you)
  • get up from bed in the appropriate way (roll to your side and put your legs on the floor, do not pull yourself directly from a lying position to a sitting position)
  • consider your body position during sleep – a good pillow and mattress is important
  • organise your work station in the correct way – make sure your desk, chair and monitor are set to the correct height and distance
  • get into and out of the car using the correct technique
The preventative rules mentioned above should be introduced and practised with you by your physiotherapist.

Step 6: Be physically active and your spine will be grateful

“Activeness can substitute all medicine, but no medicine will substitute activeness”
Nowadays when we spend so much time in a sitting position the above quote is more accurate than ever. Your spine was created for movement. If you do not ensure enough movement, you increase the probability of suffering from conditions such as spinal pain. Accurately chosen physical activities allow you to strengthen muscles near the spine and therefore decrease pain.
After seeing your physiotherapist, the correct exercise program should be chosen. Completing your program at home or in another place is one of the most important parts of rehabilitation. Remember: Not all exercises are good for you. Some of them may actually cause your condition to deteriorate. An accurate exercise program adjusted to your abilities will be prepared for you by your physiotherapist. It is also worth taking up some additional physical activity. There are some forms of activity which can be carried out by almost all people in all situations. These activities include swimming (backstroke and front crawl), brisk walking, and Nordic walking. Two things are very important during physical activity whilst suffering from back pain: 1) Proper technique. Ask the fitness/swimming instructor or physiotherapist about it. 2) Consistency. It is better to move a little every day, rather than forcing yourself once a month. By sticking to the prevention rules, and doing the right physical activity we can help to avoid back pain reoccurrence, and, in time, eliminate it completely.