Back in the Garden

Over the last few weeks we have seen an increasing number of patients attend the clinic suffering from acute back pain as a result of gardening or lawn mowing. Looking through the old clinic files we found an article written by the founder of the clinic Simon Fielding that was published in the local paper Maidstone Extra in August 1987. We reproduce the article below as it is as relevant today as it was back then and contains some useful tips on how to enjoying gardening without the pain!

Don’t back yourself into a fix!

Now the grass is growing fast, osteopaths are seeing an increasing number of patients who have overdone it in the garden. Prevention is always better than cure.

  1. If you have to dig, try to bend and lift from your knees as much as possible.
  2. Don’t carry on any one activity for too long as this will tire and overstrain the ligaments that support your spine. Do one job, such as digging, for 15 minutes, then try something else such as watering the plants.
  3. It is much better to weed the flower beds on your hands and knees, rather than stooping down for long periods. A piece of foam-backed carpet or kneeling pad will help to prevent you getting sore knees.
  4. If you use a hover type mower be careful not to swing it from side to side, as this can cause a severe strain at the bottom of your back. Always push a mower straight in front of you.
  5. When using edging shears, stand with your legs wide apart so you can work with a straight back.

After an afternoon in the garden, relax in a warm bath and, if your low back aches, try lying on your back, clasping your hands around your knees. Keeping your legs and hips relaxed, slowly pull your knees to your chest. Hold them there for about 10 seconds and slowly let them down again. This can be repeated several times. Do not attempt this exercise if you feel sharp pains. If any low back pain does not disappear in a few days, consider consulting your doctor or nearest osteopath.

Happy Gardening!

Paracetamol is ineffective at treating back pain and osteoarthritis despite being a recommended treatment

The headlines this month “Paracetamol is ineffective at treating back pain and osteoarthritis despite being a recommended treatment, a group of Australian researchers has warned” will come as no surprise to the hundreds of our patients who have tried the drug and found it provided little relief for their back pain.

The research published in the British Medical Journal is a review of 13 clinical trials and shows that paracetamol for back pain does not reduce disability or improve quality of life. In the light of this the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will review its guidelines on the use of paracetamol for back pain which it currently recommends.

Dr Christian Mallen from Keele University has correctly pointed out that treatment options other than drugs should be the “cornerstone” of the management of such conditions. NHS Choices underline this by stating that there is there is good evidence that osteopathy is effective for the treatment of persistent lower back pain.

Research shows that exercise is important in the management of back pain and the Charity BackCare recommend combining exercise with manual treatment. Acupuncture is also recommended for chronic low back so it’s really good to see that the integrated approach we have been offering at the clinic for over 30 years is now being shown to be the right one.