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Back pain in Bath

Fast access to treatment for back pain in Bath

Senior-man-suffering-from-back-painWhile many types of back pain will resolve spontaneously over time and can often be well managed at home with rest, appropriate exercise, ice or heat packs, and over-the counter pain relief, some types and causes of back pain will require expert assessment and treatment to resolve.

If your back pain doesn’t seem to be getting any better after six weeks, is significantly affecting your quality of life, or is causing you concern, it is sensible to see a specialist for advice. This is especially true if you have other underlying diagnoses that might be contributing to your back pain.

Many people living in and around the city of Bath choose Bath Clinic for their private spinal assessment and care because they appreciate the rapid access to assessment, diagnosis and treatment we provide to help them resolve their pain and get back to their everyday activities.

At Bath Clinic, we can arrange a private consultation for you quickly and easily with a range of healthcare professionals, including a physiotherapist, an orthopaedic spinal consultant surgeon or a pain management specialist.

Back pain can occur at any age. Generally, pain caused by degenerative changes are seen more commonly in people as they age, while exercise-related strains and sprains are more often seen in younger ages, but this is not always the case.

If you have any type of back pain, you will know from experience how much of a difference it can make to everyday life. Where your pain is relatively mild, you may find that normal movements and activities are still possible (often making slight adjustments to compensate). Should you have more severe back pain, you will probably find yourself much more limited, with movement, sleep and quality of life all noticeably reduced.

“Back pain can affect every aspect of daily life as both rest and movement can be painful. Back pain commonly effects the ability to carry out simple functional tasks such dressing, washing, preparing food, walking and even sleeping. It can also impact the ability to work and take part in sporting, leisure and social activities. Long-term back pain can also have a significant impact on mental health and general well-being."

- Anna Bunce, Clinical Services Manager, Physiotherapy, Bath Clinic

Whether you are frustrated at no longer being able to enjoy your favourite sport, are struggling to carry bags of shopping from the car to the house, or finding yourself being woken at night by your back pain, it is important to know that help is available.

Many people will experience a sore or stiff back at some point in their lives. They may complain of:

  • Sharp/severe back pain
  • Dull/aching pain
  • Constant back pain
  • Intermittent back pain
  • Pain in one particular point in the back
  • Widespread/generalised back pain

With the spine running from neck to buttock, pain can occur anywhere along the back and even into the legs. You may experience:

  • Neck pain
  • Middle or lower back pain
  • Pain radiating down your leg (this is known as sciatica)
  • Pain in your hip, buttock or thigh (this is known as referred pain)
  • Numbness or weakness in one or both of your legs
  • Spinal deformity/abnormal curvature (e.g. kyphosis or scoliosis)
  • Weakness, tingling or numbness in your legs or feet 

While there are many causes of back pain (see section below), some people will find their symptoms develop slowly over time while others will find they start suddenly and with no warning. These are known as chronic back pain and acute back pain respectively.

The spine is a complex structure, providing stability to your upper body and protection to the spinal cord and associated nerves. For this reason, any problem with the back that is causing pain or discomfort should not be ignored.

If you have had back pain for six weeks of more, it is sensible to see a doctor for assessment and advice. You should seek immediate medical advice should you have any concern with weakness or bowel and bladder disturbance .

Your specialist will be able to advise you on formulating a diagnosis and appropriate treatments and give you clarity about the best way treatment for your condition.

Most people get back pain due to mechanical problems, such as a muscular issue or wear and tear in a spinal disc. Problems in your muscles, ligaments and nerves can also cause back pain. Back pain may also sometimes be a symptom of a problem in an organ (e.g. a kidney).

On occasion, the cause of any back pain will be known. This will normally be if somebody has:

  • Had a recent sports injury
  • Increased their activity recently without giving their body time to adapt to the new physical demands being exerted
  • Fallen asleep at a funny angle
  • Lifted a heavy weight. While this may be in a gym, a less obvious cause is when people start to spend more time gardening in the spring or summer months. It is surprising how much the back is involved in lifting pots or plants, digging soil or removing weeds.

In other cases, there may be no cause for the back pain.

Long-term back pain can be debilitating physically, mentally and emotionally. When someone finds normal daily activities a struggle or is in constant pain, it can make every aspect of life much more challenging. Any type of back pain can have a debilitating effect on physical health. If you are feeling low or depressed because of ongoing back pain, it is important to consult with a doctor to help you understand the cause of your back pain.

Whether you are aware of what has caused your back pain or not, the back pain team at Bath Clinic would be delighted to ensure you get the help and support you need without delay. With comprehensive assessment and diagnosis, they will be able to plan and discuss the most appropriate treatment for you.

With many potential causes of back pain, an accurate diagnosis is an important first step in getting you the help you need. Depending on your symptoms, you may initially see a Consultant Spinal Surgeon or a Consultant in Pain Management.

Seeing a doctor with experience in assessing and treating back pain can help reduce the time it takes for you to get the most effective treatment. They will then carefully monitor the results of any treatment and support you as you return to a more active lifestyle once more.

When you first meet you consultant at Bath Clinic, they will ask you about your back pain and will want to know:

  • When your first noticed your back pain
  • Where in your spine you experience pain
  • The type of pain you have
  • How your pain is affecting you and limiting you
  • If you have any other symptoms that are causing you concern
  • Whether you experience any weakness
  • Whether you experience any bladder or bowel disturbance
  • Whether you have any underlying medical conditions
  • Whether the pain has been getting worse over time

During your consultation, they will normally carry out a clinical examination of your entire spine, from head to pelvis. They may also examine your hip and leg if they suspect your pain may be referred from there areas.

This examination may be all that is needed to confirm a diagnosis, but further diagnostic imaging such as X-rays and an MRI scan will often be required. An MRI scan is particularly helpful when investigating certain spinal problems, such as inflammation, compression of nerve roots by discs or bony narrowing compressing the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots.

As you would expect, the diagnostic facilities at Bath Clinic are comprehensive, with X-ray, MRI, CT and ultrasound all on-site and easily arranged for you if needed.

Once the results of your imaging are available, your consultant will meet with you again to explain the diagnosis and to discuss treatment options that are available to you.

You will probably have some questions at this point, and your consultant will be very happy to talk these through with you.

Back pain can be incredibly difficult to live with, but the right treatment tailored to your specific needs can make a noticeable difference to your back pain levels, improving everyday life.

Most people will find that their back pain can be managed and treated well without the need for surgery. These treatment approaches are known as conservative or non-operative treatment and include:

  • Over the counter or prescribed pain relief medication (analgesia)
  • Physiotherapy
  • Spinal injections – these may be carried out to confirm the cause of your back pain (diagnostic injection) or to treat the pain (therapeutic injection)

Where appropriate, your consultant may refer you to a specialist in pain management. Having treatment at the Bath Clinic allows rapid access to a whole range of specialists including quick access to a team of specialists in other areas of medicine as required

Some people will require some type of surgery to treat their back pain, and this may be carried out as open or keyhole (minimally invasive) surgery. Your consultant will explain any appropriate surgical options to you after making a diagnosis of the cause of your pain.

It is important to remember that the focus of any treatment – whether operative or non-operative – is to help get you out of pain as quickly and safely as possible. Spinal surgery is only ever used when other treatments are not able to effectively treat the problem.

A significant benefit of private care at Bath Clinic is that you will be seen by a consultant from your very first appointment. They will oversee every aspect of your care, from assessment and diagnosis through to treatment, recovery and discharge.

Your consultant will see you after discharge and carefuly monitor your progress.

Many people benefit from physiotherapy to treat and manage back pain, and we have a team of experienced physiotherapists at Bath Clinic who would be delighted to meet with you to discuss ways to manage your back pain.

Physiotherapy at Bath Clinic may include:

  • Hands on manual therapy (e.g. spinal mobilisation and soft tissue massage)
  • Acupuncture
  • Exercise provision (including Pilates)
  • Helping to correct poor posture
  • Back care advice

“Physiotherapy treatments can address pain, stiffness, postural issues and muscle imbalance. Patients are taught how to protect their back and regain spinal movement safely with strengthening, stretching and postural exercises and advice. They can be taught effective ways in which to manage their pain, become in control of their symptoms and enjoy all aspects of life again. Importantly patients are also taught preventative strategies to help avoid further episodes of back pain in the future.”

  • Anna Bunce – Clinical Services Manager, Physiotherapy, Bath Clinic

Conditions that may require surgery to correct include:

  • Spinal cord problems
  • A vertebral disc that has moved out of place
  • A spinal nerve that is being pinched or compressed
  • A bony spur compressing nerves in the spine
  • A narrowing or misalignment of the spine (stenosis) that is causing pressing on the nerve.

Spinal surgery available at Bath Clinic includes:

Details of our fixed price packages can be seen here.

At Bath Clinic, we understand how debilitating and challenging back pain can be. We know the difference fast access to assessment and treatment can make to daily life.

When you choose to visit us for your private care, you will benefit from:

  • Fast access – It is quick and easy to book a private consultation with a leading back pain specialist in Bath at a time that is convenient for you.
  • Consultant-led care – You will always see the same consultant and they will oversee every aspect of your care. This continuity of care makes it easy to know who to contact if you have any questions or concerns at any time, or if you would like to book further consultations with them.
  • Teamwork – Our back pain specialists work closely with a team of on-site healthcare professionals including radiologists, physiotherapists and pain management consultants.
  • Easy to book – With consultations available throughout the week, it is quick and easy to book your visit online or by telephone.
  • Location – It is easy to travel to us and the hospital is only around two miles from the centre of historic Bath. A private car park with 100 spaces makes parking simple.
  • Stunning facilities – Bath Clinic is situated within beautifully landscaped grounds and is directly next door to a National Trust property. Our historic exterior is a refreshing change to the appearance of many modern hospitals, but inside provides access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.

If you are at all worried or concerned about back pain, why not book a consultation with one of our back pain specialists today? We very much look forward to welcoming you to Bath Clinic and helping to get your back pain managed and under control as soon as possible.

Content reviewed by Mr Otto von Arx in August 2022. Next review due August 2025.

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