Conservative management

Neck and back pain are among the most frequent complaints in doctors’ offices in the UK. There are many factors for this, such as the fact that many of us are leading more sedentary lives than previous generations, or there are those that suffer from repetitive stress injuries, or the fact the lower back pain is easy to come by from lifting something too heavy, or that both neck and back pain are both directly linked with high stress levels. The vast majority of neck and back pain problems will work themselves out with the aid of some conservative management.

The first and most obvious form of conservative management is rest. While resting the area that is in pain, this doesn’t necessarily mean that patients should take to their beds for any longer than a day or two at the maximum. Movement will help keep the area from becoming stiff, which will only increase the level of pain. By resting, patients should try not to exacerbate the injury through excessive movement or exercise.

Medications can help with the management of pain at the onset. Over the counter medications such as paracetemol or ibuprofen can help with the swelling associated with neck and back pain as well as relieve the pain itself. While these non-steroidal anti-inflammatories can greatly reduce the pain, they can have side effects if taken for long periods, so if the pain doesn’t subside after a week, a doctor may need to be consulted. He may prescribe stronger medications to help cope with the pain until the body starts to heal itself.

Heat and massage may help to relieve some problems such as muscle spasm. In some cases, neck and back pain is caused by muscles that have been contracted, or tense, for a long time. This can stop oxygen and blood from circulating properly through the muscle and allow toxins to build up. Putting pressure on these muscles with the slow strokes of massage can help the muscles relax and release the toxins, finally allowing the circulation of oxygen and blood to return.

Being out of shape can not only cause neck and back pain, but it can also make existing neck and back pain worse. For those that can, exercise can be very helpful, not only in relieving neck and back pain, but for preventing it as well. Exercise helps keeps the muscles and ligaments supple, flexible and strong, and decreases the chance of injury in the future.

By improving the muscle mass of those muscles found in the back and neck, the spinal cord will be better supported and less likely to cause pain because of the natural degeneration that comes with age. Even low impact exercises such as swimming or yoga can be enough to ensure that the neck and back stay strong.