Back pain

Back pain affects thousands of people every day and can often have a devastating impact on your life.

At The Holly Private Hospital, our team of consultant back and spine orthopaedic surgeons and pain management specialists and physiotherapists are experts in helping you to manage the pain and can help you get back on your feet again as quickly as possible.

We work closely with you to identify the cause of your pain and to create a treatment plan that suits your individual needs.

Causes of back pain

For most cases of non-specific back pain, it will be difficult to identify the specific cause. However, there are several factors that can increase the likelihood of developing or aggravating the pain:

  • Spending extended periods of time in a standing, sitting or bending position.
  • Poor posture.
  • Obesity (with a BMI of 30 or over).
  • Carrying or pulling excessive loads, not taking due care when lifting.
  • Repetitive strain injury i.e. the overuse of muscles during sports or other activities.
  • Overstretching or awkwardly twisting your back.

Sometimes the cause of the pain is because of damage to parts of your spine, such as:

  • A slipped disc – when one of your intervertebral discs herniates, putting pressure on the nerves.
  • Fractured, cracked or broken bones in your back.
  • Spinal stenosis – a narrowing of the spinal canal, causing nerves to get trapped.
  • Osteoporosis – a progressive disease where bones lose density and become prone to fracture.
  • Osteoarthritis – a degenerative disease that can affect the joints of your spine.
  • Spondylolisthesis – displacement of the vertebra out of position.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – an inflammatory condition that can affect tissues and organs and particularly flexible joints.
  • Degenerative disc disease – where the intervertebral discs wear down, causing chronic back pain.

Back pain is a problem that can affect anyone at any time of their life and it can take many forms. There are multiple causes of backaches, tensions or stiffness which means that it can sometimes be difficult to establish what is causing the pain in your back.

How to avoid

Here are some ways that you can reduce the likelihood of developing pains in your back and minimise the risk of injury:

  • Keeping your spine straight and maintaining a good posture.
  • Maintaining a healthy body mass index means that you will not suffer undue joint strain.
  • Try not to lift with your knees instead of your back when lifting heavy objects.
  • Gentle exercises such as swimming, walking or cycling can help strengthen your core muscles, providing greater support to your back.
  • Warm-up and cool down before and after exercise or sport by gently stretching.
  • Quit smoking as it can cause tissue damage.


Lower back pain – soreness, tension or stiffness in the lower back area is the most common complaint, often referred to as ‘non-specific’ pain. Lower back pain can result from lifting something heavy, twisting awkwardly or as the result of poor posture.

Upper or middle back pain – this area is known as the thoracic spine. Pain in the upper or middle back can occur anywhere between the base of your neck and bottom of your ribcage and symptoms include a dull, burning or sharp pain. You may also have pain in your arms, legs or chest. If you experience weakness in your arms or legs, a numb or tingling feeling in your arms, legs, chest or stomach area, or are suffering from a loss of bladder or bowel control you should seek immediate medical attention.

Acknowledgements: EIDO Healthcare Limited

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