When back trouble becomes a pain, seek out a specialist

Physiotherapist Chris Gadeke at his clinic in the Technopole, Portsmouth.  Picture: Allan Hutchings (121637-812)
Physiotherapist Chris Gadeke at his clinic in the Technopole, Portsmouth. Picture: Allan Hutchings (121637-812)
Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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It’s an agonising problem for individuals and one of the most common reasons for absence from work.

According to research, back pain accounts for more than 10 per cent of workplace sickness and affects a significant proportion of UK adults.

But experts say many problems could be eased with the right lifestyle measures.

Physiotherapist Chris Gadeke, who works for the NHS and runs his own practice, says the lower back is particularly susceptible to pain and injury because it supports most of the body’s weight.

He adds: ‘It is an area that deconditions easily, but there are a lot of things you can do to help. Lifestyle is a big factor because people tend to sit in their offices all day in the same position, then drive home in the car, in the same position, and then sit on the sofa in front of EastEnders.

‘Exercise is going to help, that’s obvious, but if you are going home to watch telly try positioning yourself differently, I recommend laying on the floor for 10 to 15 minutes with a pillow under your chest.’

He says workers should have regular breaks and get up and walk around. The reason for the damage is that prolonged postures put a lot of strain on the back, but conversely so do repetitive actions like picking up objects.

‘It’s a case of balance, taking regular breaks, moving differently and being aware of your body. Doing something like pilates or yoga is brilliant,’ says Chris.

Extra weight is another significant factor in the back pain problem.

‘It puts strain and tension on the joints and the structures around the joints,’ explains Chris, who runs clinics in Portsmouth. Southsea, Gosport and Petersfield.

But once someone has back pain, they need the help of the experts. Chris says people often get confused about which practitioners they should approach.

The back is complex and every sufferer needs different treatment options. Chris offers manual therapy (massage, manipulation and mobilisation), acupuncture, electrotherapy and exercise therapy. He has worked with the Royal Army Medical Corps and treated top athletes, providing services to Portsmouth FC and England Under 16s.

But he says a good practitioner should recognise when a patient needs the skills of a different specialist or should be referred to their GP.

He urges people to research their problem and practitioner thoroughly as some back conditions could be an indicator of another medical problem and a good specialist will recognise when a patient should be referred.

n There is information about back pain and other injuries on Chris’s website chrisgadekephysiotherapy.co.uk/conditions/ or visit nhs.uk/Conditions/Back-pain/Pages/Introduction.aspx