Definition: Chronic Back Pain

Chronic Back Pain is the term given to an ache or pain in the lower back that lasts for over three months, causing the person ongoing or potentially long term problems. The pain experienced may be mild, or quite severe if the condition is serious, perhaps as the result of sickness or injury for instance. It is advisable to seek a diagnosis from a doctor for serious back pain conditions.

However, most lower back pain is non-specific back pain and X rays frequently show no organic problems. This type of chronic pain is also called simple back pain and can have many possible causes, such as high stress levels, muscle strains, poor posture and general mis-use which can compress the musculoskeletal structure and irritate the spinal nerves, particularly in the lumbar region of the spine. The condition often develops over time but then one particular incident, such as sneezing whilst in a tense and awkward position, can trigger sudden acute back pain.

Sometimes the pain will recede of its own accord but if it has come about through mis-use in the way a person uses their body, the pain will usually continue until the damaging movement habits are stopped. This can also lead to further deterioration, if people do not know how to help themselves and the causes of the condition are not addressed.

The Health and Safety Executive, HSE, states that back pain afflicts approximately 49% of the adult population in the UK, creating a huge drain on the economy and the NHS, and that some 4.9 million work days were lost in one year, because of absences caused by back pain.

The Alexander Technique is a very effective tool that people can learn to use to help reduce the number of days they experience lower back pain. This fact, which has been known by Alexander teachers for many years, has now been given the support of the scientific and medical communities. The results of the ATEAM Research Trial, published in August 2008, showed that 1:1 lessons from a registered Alexander Technique teacher, offer long term benefits for patients with chronic and recurrent back pain.

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