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Persistent back pain


Although most people find that their back pain disappears within days or weeks, some may experience more persistent pain or pain that returns regularly. When this is the case you may want to explore some other alternatives that allow you to take control of your pain.
 
Back pain can be persistent and many people find that their pain re-occurs regularly. The tips given in the section on 'First aid for back pain' can also be useful when the pain is more persistent, but we have collected some more tips and information for people with more persistent back pain.
 
What to do when pain is persistent?
If you have tried to manage your back pain by staying active, the use of medication and the other tips explained in ‘What to do when back pain strikes’, and found that after a number of weeks or months your pain is still bothering you, you may want to explore some other options. This however does not mean that the tips in the ‘What to do when back pain strikes’ section are no longer applicable. Staying active, medication, exercise, hot or cold packs can also be of use in managing persistent back pain.
 
The chances are that you have days of fairly minimum pain and also days of more severe pain. When feeling good, you may tend to do most things that you have to do, while on the bad days you cannot get yourself to do your daily activities because the pain is bothering you too much. There is however the risk that you over-do it on the good days and that this leads to more pain on the subsequent days. To avoid this ‘yo-yoing’ between good days and bad days, you may want to try to pace yourself on the good days and spread your workload over a longer period. This pacing will need some practice but after a while you will know how much you can do without over-stretching yourself and paying the price in the days after.
 
What is persistent back pain?
As explained in the ‘What is back pain’ section, there is a difference between acute pain and persistent pain (also called chronic pain). Acute pain, that pain you feel when you cut your finger or sprain a muscle, is a warning signal that tells your body that a part may have been damaged and needs your attention. However, persistent pain, that may have been present for weeks or months, no longer acts as a warning signal. Instead your body has gone into overdrive and the pain that you perceive no longer refers to possible damage.
 
Finding treatments for persistent back pain
There is a range of different treatments and products you may use to help you in controlling persistent back pain. Some people find that these treatments or products cure their back pain completely, but most people find that these treatments or products reduce the pain and make their back pain much more manageable. It is important to be realistic about your expectations from any treatment or product. Obviously everyone would prefer not to have any pain, but this is not realistic. Reducing pain to a level that is manageable and does not interfere with most of your activities is perhaps a more achievable goal.
 
There is a large range of treatments and products available. The Back4Good Programme offers a structured pathway to manage your pain and move towards recovery. There are also other options you may wish to consider in conjunction with our programme. To get more information about back pain and additional and suplementory treatments, you should visit BackCare.org.uk. Like us, BackCare strongly believe that there is always something that can be done about back pain. It is important to work through the various options objectively to find the best solution for you and your lifestyle.
 
What works for most people?
Even when your back pain is persistent, it is important to remain physically active. Spending too much time in bed or on the couch is likely to result in further de-conditioning and this will impair recovery from back pain. It may not always be easy to remain physically active due to your pain. If this is the case you can consider using medication to control the pain. Some people find that applying hot or cold packs to the painful area can give some pain relief.
 
With thanks to BackCare, the charity for healthier backs.