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  • Dr Geraint Preest

Back pain

Back pain is one of the most common conditions that we see in surgery, particularly on a Monday morning (probably because our patients are busy gardening or doing DIY over the weekend!). It's surprising how many patients have not tried to treat themselves beforehand and how many think that rest is the quickest way to get better (it's not). Here's a short film by the Chartered Society for Physiotherapy, telling you why it's important to keep moving and active - even though that may seem counter intuitive

So, if you suffer with an attack of back pain, it's important to try to keep mobile as much as possible. As always, the local Chemist is an excellent source of advice and information about the most appropriate pain killers for you to take. If you're already taking medication for other conditions, they'll even advise you what pain killers are safe for you to take. Most people take either paracetamol or a combination of paracetamol and codeine. Anti-inflammatories, such as Ibuprofen, can also help but they may not be suitable for everyone - again, your local Pharmacist (Chemist) can help to advise you here.

Physiotherapists are excellent at treating and advising about back pain. Some patients choose to visit a Physiotherapist outside the NHS, other patients have access to Physiotherapy through their work. Our Pencoed patients can self refer themselves to an NHS Physiotherapist working within ABMU. Details here.

If you'd like a really good overview about back pain, here's a Canadian Doctor, Dr Mike Evans with an excellent short animated film. Dr Evans outlines why we get back pain, how to treat it and what to look out for if there's a more serious cause for your back pain and you need to seek further help from a Doctor.

Dr Evans outlines why we usually do not XRay patients with back pain and "red flags". Red flags are important symptoms that require further investigation by the Doctor.

Finally, if you're unable to work because of back pain, remember that you can submit a "self certificate" to your employer for up to 7 days of illness without having to see the Doctor. A formal "Doctor's note" (correct name is "Fit note" or sometimes called "A sick note") only applies once you've been off sick for 7 days, not before. So, please don't ask to see the Doctor simply for a sick note within the first 7 days because it's not required and you should self certify instead (you can obtain a self certificate form from reception or from your employer).

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