Frequently Asked Questions

Don’t Let Your Back or Neck Problem Control You, Better To Learn To Take Control Of It! Don’t Rely On, And Pay Others To Do What You Can Learn To Do For Yourself!

Q: Why should my treatment focus on learning to treat myself?

A: There are many benefits to learning to treat your own problem. Back and neck pain is a normal part of life and often recur. Learning to treat yourself allows you to become independent and less reliant on expensive treatments, allows more confidence when returning to normal activities, and affords a better understanding of the problem improving your ability to prevent recurrence or cope with any persistent symptoms.

Q:  What is the pain telling me?

A:  In theory the symptoms are self limiting. That is to say the symptoms attempt to force us to modify our lifestyle to allow healing of the injured structure. As this is achieved the symptoms recede and we get our privileges back. There are sometimes issues with this protective mechanism itself and it is important to understand the information our body is giving us. Once again good education is the key.

Q:  If there is pain do I need to stop what I am doing?

A:  Not necessarily. In fact I would encourage an early resumption of the activities an
individual most enjoys or needs to perform. The key is to understand the difference in a painful reaction that we are safe to ignore verses one that might indicate harm is being done. This is relatively easy for anyone given the right education and that is where Spine Care can help..

Q:  Why did you specialise and now only treat spinal problems.

A:  In most areas of medicine sub-specialisation has become normal and desirable. As our knowledge base grows in each area it becomes difficult to keep up to date with everything. Take Orthopaedic Surgeons as an example, there are some that just operate on the spine, others who focus on the knee or hip or shoulder etc. In specialising in the conservative treatment of spinal conditions, as I have since 1991, I have had the opportunity to develop expertise in one defined area. I do not claim to be specialist in all areas of Physiotherapy. Having dealt with in excess of 13,000 cases now I have had the luxury of assessing and assisting with a massive variety of spinal conditions providing a quite unique level of clinical experience.

Q:  I have put on weight recently, will that make my back worse?

A:  Not necessarily. Research has not found weight to be a significant factor in back pain except in the extremes of obesity. However people will often improve as this attempt to loose weight. This is probably because of the known benefits that a change to a more balanced and active lifestyle brings. There are improvements in our metabolism, emotional state, stress levels and the physical improvements that improved fitness and conditioning bring. Therefore a change to this type of lifestyle is almost certainly going to improve many things and have the added bonus of improving your chances of loosing weight!

Q:  Are some exercises better than others for helping back or neck pain.

A:  Problems affecting the spine often demonstrate a preference for certain exercises. Unfortunately it is not simply a case of one exercise being good for everything. It depends on the individual problem. By observing the effects of different movements or loads it is often possible to identify those that are beneficial verses detrimental. The beneficial movements are known as the directional preference of the problem. Where a directional preference exists there is evidence that a condition will improve faster using exercises that match that directional preference. This is one of the things we look to identify when assessing clients at Spine Care.

Q:  How do I know what I should do and what I should avoid?

A:  In theory the symptoms / pain our problem produces are a protective mechanism, and are there to act as a guide. If these protective symptoms are working properly they give us a clear indication as to what things are provocative and what things will help resolve the problem. That is not to say we need to avoid everything that hurts, more that we should manage the amount we do of things that leave the problem significantly worse for a prolonged period afterwards. Gaining an understanding of the characteristics of the symptoms that are unique to your problem means you become confident in making decisions about what you can and can’t do at that time. It is important to remember that as the problem improves it is essential that you progressively reintroduce the things that you might initially have had to avoid. It is also important to realise that sometimes there can be a problem with the protective mechanism itself causing you to experience severe symptoms when the problem is minor. A key role of treatment should be to give you the ability to understand your symptoms.

Q:  If I avoid heavy work or vigorous sport will I decrease the chances of another problem?

A:  Not necessarily. In fact by reducing physical activity you may become more susceptible to further problems. It is understood that our bodies are stress dependent. That is to say we become fit to the activities we do regularly because our bodies will adapt to better cope with these stresses. The less we do the more de-conditioned our body becomes. It is usually sufficient and preferable just to manage the volume of activities you found to be provocative to your problem. It is also advisable to make increases in these activities gradual so you give the body time to adapt and get ‘fit’.