Back pain is a common problem that most people will experience at some time. Back pain can develop as the result of an injury or due to chronic conditions, including osteoarthritis and inflammatory diseases like psoriatic arthropathy or ankylosing spondylitis. 1
Back pain can be distressing and can make it difficult to work, function and get about. If your back pain is affecting your movement and reducing your quality of life, the experienced doctors and physiotherapists at Virtually Healthcare can provide advice, investigation and treatment to reduce pain and restore your mobility.
Most back pain is caused by simple muscle or ligament strains. These can follow an accident or injury, or they may be triggered by poor posture or lack of exercise, causing muscle weakness and stiffening of the spine. Specific conditions can also cause back pain; these include:
Spondylosis: The spine’s bones, discs and ligaments get weaker as we get older. The discs are the soft tissue cushions between the spinal bones. They become thinner with increasing age, the spaces between the vertebrae narrows, making bony lumps called osteophytes develop. This is called spondylosis and is very similar to the changes caused by osteoarthritis in joints like the knee and hip.
Sciatica: The soft tissue pads between the vertebrae can ‘slip’ or bulge out, causing back pain and weakness. Sometimes the bulging disc can press on a nerve root, causing pain, tingling and numbness in the thighs, hips, and buttocks. This is known as sciatica.
Spinal stenosis: Birth abnormalities, ageing and osteoarthritis can make the spinal column narrow, compressing the spinal cord and nerve roots. Spinal stenosis causes back pain together with pain, weakness, and numbness in the legs. The symptoms usually start after a few minutes of walking and settle quickly when you rest.
Other less common causes of back pain include:
Virtually Healthcare is an innovative GP practice, providing expert care in the comfort, safety and privacy of your home. The Virtually Healthcare service is designed to fit with modern lives. Consultations are easy to access, discreet and convenient, with virtual appointments available seven days a week.
The highly skilled team includes more than 40 clinicians working together to investigate and treat disease and help you optimise your health and wellbeing. As well as GPs, the team includes physiotherapists and practice nurses to offer a comprehensive primary care service.
During the pandemic, many patients are finding it more difficult to access Healthcare. Virtually Healthcare provides rapid access video or telephone appointments, with consultations available the same day if you contact us before 3 pm. Our clinicians can provide professional assessment and advice, arrange investigations, prescribe treatment or arrange for a face-to-face review.
At Virtually Healthcare, our focus is on you. Our patients can make an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists without a GP referral. The physios can arrange scans and tests. They will work with a Virtually doctor to arrange that a prescription is sent directly to your local pharmacy.
Pain relief: Take regular paracetamol or over-the-counter anti-inflammatories (if you can tolerate them.)
Virtually Healthcare has two physiotherapists as part of our multi-disciplinary team. Your time is valuable. Physiotherapists are specialists in treating muscle, bone and joint conditions, making them the best professionals to assess and treat your back unless you have suffered an injury.
You can book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists without the need for a GP referral. They have extensive experience and expertise in the evaluation and treatment of back pain. They can:
Make an appointment with one of the doctors at Virtually Healthcare if your back pain is severe and significantly affects your mobility and quality of life. It’s essential to seek urgent assessment and advice if:
Your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and suggest investigation and treatment based on their expert assessment. This could include:
Working from home can give you backache. The increase in home working during the pandemic has been reflected in increasing numbers of patients complaining about back pain. It’s often a matter of ergonomics; uncomfortable chairs, tables that are the wrong height, and the use of laptops can all affect your posture and put pressure on your back.
More than half of women suffer from back pain in pregnancy. It’s caused by your hormones and the extra work of carrying a baby. The hormone relaxin softens the ligaments between the pelvis and spine so that they can stretch to make room for the baby during labour. Later your expanding bump can add to the strain by altering your centre of gravity and increasing the arch of your back. With your stretched tummy muscles, your lower back often has to take the strain. If you’re struggling, there are ways to protect your back:
We offer written, telephone and video consultations with a range of male and female clinicians from GPs, nurse practitioners, and primary care specialists such as physiotherapy.