Are you looking for a back pain specialist online for some advice or to consult with about your back? Searching endlessly online can be a chore, time consuming (especially when comparing on price) but do not be fooled as it is important to seek the right specialist. Below are my top tips for when looking for a back pain specialist in your area.
Back pain is common…
It is said that 80% of the population (about 4 in 5 people) will have at least one episode of back pain at some point in their lives. [i] Around 33% of the population suffer from back pain at any one time. [ii] As the risk of back pain increases with age, where adults see the most amount of back pain by around 35-55 years of age, the importance of self-care and healthy lifestyle choices should be emphasised in all stages of healthcare.
The National Institute of Clinical Excellence could not stress enough the importance of self-care and exercise in their recent guidelines on back pain management. [iii]
On a personal note as an Osteopath, back pain is the single most common reason for patients to seek my help, with neck pain, sciatica and arthritis being others. Osteopath’s study 4 year’s full time and 5-6 year’s part time in some UK Osteopathic institutions.
One of the highest risk factors for low back pain is prolonged sitting, which is a problem for business owner’s and desk bound employee’s alike!
If you work at a desk for any length of time, you can read about how you can prevent and preserve your back by reading another one of my blog post articles titled:
Back Pain: Who Do You Call?
Most of the time, back pain is not caused by anything serious with there being some mechanical and treatable cause. There are times though however when a visit to your GP or even the accident and emergency in certain cases.
You should contact your GP or call the NHS helpline on “111” immediately if you have back pain and the following:
- numbness or tingling around your genitals or buttocks
- difficulty peeing
- loss of bladder or bowel control
- chest pain
- a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
- unexplained weight loss
- a swelling or a deformity in your back
- it doesn’t improve after resting or is worse at night
- it started after a serious accident, such as after a car accident
These problems could be a sign of something more serious and need to be checked urgently.
If you have recently hurt your back without any of the above and still have pain (whilst trying everything else) it may be time to seek further assistance.
Top Tips of who to look for online
Is your back pain specialist in a regulated profession?
It is first important to check whether the practitioner your looking for is a regulated by a governing body. Anyone online can call themselves a “back pain specialist” without having the appropriate credentials or required study to rule out other causes of back pain.
Just check when you are searching around whether your specialist is regulated, such as Physiotherapists are regulated under the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, Chiropractors under the British Chiropractic Association and Osteopaths under the General Osteopathic Council.
We all know GPs are regulated with the General Medical Council. It takes these professions 3-4+ years of schooling to be regulated with these bodies.
If your back pain specialist uses terms like “fix your back” or putting your back “back in place” avoid that practitioner like the plague!
Many times the terminology practitioners use with their patients are equally as damaging to patient outcomes as to the physical problem itself. By using terms such as “twisted pelvis”, “Your pelvis is out” or your “out of place” in one way or another then this only keeps patients thinking they need to go back on a weekly basis to have their twisted pelvis put “back into place” again!
The importance of treatment is to give patients some help when they can not help themselves, when they are in a lot of pain. After that, patients need to quickly focus on ways they can help themselves and push past the initial stages of the problem and return to sports, to exercise and to work – focusing on exercise, diet and lifestyle habits.
Does Your Back Pain Specialist Practice What They Preach?
What would you think if you went to your GP for a yearly health check, he took your blood pressure, measured your height and checked your weight and they said.
“Mrs Roberts, your blood pressure is very high and your BMI score is in the Obese category. I recommend you go see our in-house smoking cessation Nurse, take more regular exercise and lose some weight. Oh, and take these beta blockers…”
You take one good look at your GP and he is obese himself! Now would you take advice from this GP or would you not be more reassured and somewhat empowered that your GP was fit and healthy too?
I always say that you cannot give what you do not have. It is important that your back pain specialist also practices what he preaches.
Take advice from a specialist you respect, that empowers you and motivates you towards health and wellness. Not a specialist who is only interested in taking you to a point where there are no symptoms. Lets all face it, just because one has no symptoms, it does not mean they are fit and healthy!
Back pain is a very common condition seen in the workplace and within the 35-55-year-old category. It accounts for an average 15 days per case of loss of work and costs the NHS more than £1000 million per year. [iv] In 1998 the direct healthcare costs of all back pain in the UK were estimated at £1623. It is clear why the national guidelines do promote self care and the exhaustion of all conservative approaches first prior to any medical intervention.
It is important to remember that there are genuine cases where patients will need to consult their GP and or serious cases, go to the hospital. If, however you have simple low back pain or back pain that is unresolved after doing what you can yourself, it is worth booking in for a consultation with your local trusted practitioner of choice.
Understand what your goals are and make a dream big enough to give you motive to overcome your back pain. If your goals are only to beat back pain then your efforts will take longer as this is symptom and disease centred thinking rather than health building, empowering and promoting.
[i] Christopher Norris, Martyn Matthews. The role of an integrated back stability program in patients with chronic low back pain. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice (2008) 14, 255–263
[ii] Woolf AD, Pfleger B. Burden of major musculoskeletal conditions. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2003; 81: 646–56.
[iii] The National institute of Clinical Excellence. Low back pain and sciatica in over 16s: assessment and management. Published date: November 2016 https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/conditions-and-diseases/musculoskeletal-conditions/low-back-pain. Website accessed 11/04/17
[iv] The National institute of Clinical Excellence. Low back pain: the acute management of patients with chronic (longer than 6 weeks) non-specific low back pain. National costing report: low back pain (May 2009)