Every day of the year, the number of Britons who are off work with back pain would fill London's new Olympic stadium. Yes, Britain's got backache – and in a very big way. Yet rather surprisingly, a lot of people have no idea about what causes back pain, or of how to avoid it, or how to treat it. Many of them think, "Oh, it won't happen to me". But it probably will. So here are 10 things not a lot of people know about back pain. Reading it might just save you from a lot of discomfort in the future.
Back pain is often preventable
Back pain doesn't just happen out of the blue. Very frequently, it's caused by doing something that is distinctly unwise. Common examples include: leaning forward to pick something up, without bending your knees – this puts a big strain on your lumbar region; lifting something that's far too heavy for you; carrying something weighty, but holding it away from your body – a load that is held tight against the body will put much less stress on the back; twisting round suddenly – for instance, to get something off the back seat of the car; continuing with what you were doing when the back pain started – if you suddenly feel pain while gardening, golfing, working out in the gym, carrying a toddler or sitting in an uncomfortable chair, then stop. Alas, the British have an endearing tendency to carry on, in the hope that it will all be OK. It probably won't.
You should take care of your sacro-iliacs
Most British people have never heard of the sacro-iliac joints. This is in sharp contrast to Americans, who are forever staggering into their doctors' offices muttering, "I guess it's my S-I joints again, Doc." The sacro-iliacs are a fairly common source of low back pain. There are two of them, and they are located just under the pair of dimples many people have at the top of their buttocks.
They are easily thrown out of kilter by sudden or awkward bending forward. Thus, the last time I had trouble with mine was on the day I tried to trim the lawn using a cheap, nasty, unwieldy strimmer that was much too short for my height.
Bending forward to vacuum the floor is another common cause of S-I joint pain. Typically, this is a dull ache that gets worse whenever you try to stand up from a chair. Happily, it gets better with rest. Manipulation often helps.