It's not a pleasant thought but virtually every single one of us will experience serious back pain at some point in our lives.Whether you're an athlete, a blue or white collar worker, or even a retiree, back pain is one of the most common health complaints.
Research shows four out of five people will suffer significant back pain at some point in life.More stories from Today Tonight
It becomes chronic when the pain persists for more than three months and for many relief only comes with medication or physical manipulation, while for others surgery is the only option.
Years of competitive water skiing left Roger Teeter battling chronic back pain.
“I wrecked my back 35 years ago. On the worst days I couldn't get out of bed,” Teeter said.Today Tonight's latest health stories
Unable to find a solution the former aeronautical engineer set about creating his own cure, and created a rotating bed known as a Teeter Hang Up which uses gravity to take the weight off your spine.
“If you've got a pinched nerve or an inflamed joint by taking the weight off the nerve or joint you get immediate relief,” Teeter said.
School teacher Peter Woolfe was virtually crippled by major back spasms six years ago.More stories from reporter Lynda Kinkade
“I had this searing pain right down my back and it was absolutely shocking. I felt nauseated and turned white as a ghost, and I started to sweat, and it was a basically a major collapse of my muscles on the left hand side,” Woolfe said.
He sought treatment from a physiotherapist and chiropractor for about five years before trying the inversion table after reading about it online.
“All I need to do now is move my arms backwards. I just love it,” Woolfe said.
Results from a Newcastle University study in the UK found patients suffering sciatica were 70 per cent less likely to require surgery after using the Teeter Hang Up.
Stephen Esposito, a chiropractor with twenty years' experience in the field, says techniques to fight back problems have come a long way.
“Most commonly chiropractors use spinal adjustment, manipulation. In the past there was a stigma attached to manipulation of the spine, but techniques have continued to improve,” Esposito said.
He works hands on in his own clinic and lectures at Macquarie University.
“Often we can give relief quite quickly, however the problem is dependent on how complicated the problem is, and what the underlying cause is,” he said.
Lower back pain comes at a massive cost. On top of what Australians spend on treatments, lotions and surgery, loss of wages and lost productivity comes in at an estimated cost $9 billion a year.
90 per cent of spinal disc injuries will heal themselves after a few weeks, especially with physical therapy or hydro-therapy.
For short term pain management anti-inflammatories like Voltaren tablets and deep heat creams can provide some relief. Standard pain medication like Nurofen and Panadol also help.
But waiting it out can be torture, and not everybody gets better - that's when you need to see a doctor.
Neuro-surgeon Paul D'Urso from the Epworth Hospital in Melbourne says spinal procedures have improved over time.“Previously we used to do a big incision to expose the spine quite widely. Now we're tending to do keyhole operations with smaller incisions and better instrumentation. That means less blood loss, less muscle damage and faster healing, and the patients can get out of bed a lot quicker,” Dr D’Urso said.
Medical advice should be sought before undergoing any back treatment.Contact details
- Teeter Hang Ups - www.teeter.com.au
- Health Space Clinics - www.healthspaceclinics.com.au
- Epworth Healthcare - www.epworth.org.au
This reporter is on Twitter at @LyndaKinkade