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Is Rest Making Your Aches And Pains Worse? PDF Print Email

40% of Britons tend to rest and go to bed hoping to ease the pain associated with muscle and joints, even though studies show that this can make the pain last longer and reduce mobility.  It also means it takes longer to recover.


Simplyhealth Advisory Research Panel (ShARP) recently commissioned a survey of 1000 25-65 year olds which found that 35% thought it was best to go to bed and rest.


Paul Hobrough, who is a Team GB kayaker and a sports scientist and physiotherapist from the Simplyhealth Advisory Research Panel (ShARP) said: "People get trapped in a cycle where their lack of exercise not only exacerbates their pain and stiffness, it also leads to muscle wastage. This in turn can result in weight gain, placing even more stress on already painful joints.  He added: "Prevention, timely treatment and ongoing advice from a health professional can make a real difference in terms of heading off problems."


The survey also found:
That the lower back is the biggest cause of pain throughout the country.
People who are overweight suffer joint pain daily
99% of those over 50 experience back pain
Sitting down and working at the computer for long periods causes problems

More women than men are suffering from musculoskeletal health issues


For hundreds of thousands of people in the UK aches and pains associated with joints and muscles are an everday fact of life.  Back pain affects 80% of people at some time in their lives.  Musculoskeletal conditions cost the UK £5.7 billion a year and 10 million working days are lost from them.


While people visit the dentist when they have toothache and see an optician if they think they need glasses, 90% of people with lower back pain appear to be reluctant to consult a physiotherapist who could diagnose and devise a tailored exercise programme to help them.

Physiotherapists can help with pain management options and more importantly, treat the problem. Workouts designed by a physiotherapist can improve symptoms, according to a BMJ report but only 6% of respondents in the study visit them which is surprising as 42% said pain stopped them from exercising as much as they would like.


Unfortunately, three out of four did not seek advice from a physiotherapist for musculoskeletal problems as they mistakenly thought they needed a GP referral.

90% are aware that certain exercises can help with muscle and joint pain such as yoga, swimming and pilates but over 50% admitted to doing nothing to help their musculoskeletal health.


It is the under 40’s who most recognise the benefit of physiotherapy with one in five going for treatment compared with one in seven of those over 40.

Pain can have an impact on your relationship.  According to the study the lower back is the country’s number one pain spot with seven out of ten complaining of problems there. It also shows that those who weigh more than 14 stone are much more likely to suffer pain on a daily basis.


A quarter of participants could not lift things, 20% could not walk very far, 9% said they couldn’t play with their children or climb stairs because of their pain
25% worried about their future health because of their pain and nearly as many felt they could do nothing to deal with it.  Also, possibly most striking but unsurprising is the impact on respondents love life, with 13% saying they are less interested in the relationship with their partner because of their pain.


Weight problem
The most common cause of musculoskeletal problems in the UK is Arthritis and over 10 million people consult a doctor every year about it.  The fact people are growing more obese is causing this to rise.
The combination of being overweight and joint pain is dangerous and can be a vicious circle, as the pain often reduces physical activity which increases weight gain, which puts even more pressure on the back and joints. The ShARP study highlights a direct link between weight and back problems, with nearly everyone (99.5%) weighing 14 stone or over experiencing problems. People weighing 14 stone and over  (33%) were also twice as likely to suffer from knee complaints compared to those who weigh 9.5 stone or under (19%).


Your stature can cause problems
The ShARP survey found that lower back pain affects 90% of people who are six foot or taller compared with an average of 70% for those under six foot. Height can also trigger problems around the neck and shoulders.
People who have pain in their neck and shoulders tended to spend more time at a computer, with 71% saying they sat over a screen for more than six hours a day.
Nearly a quarter (23%) of those suffering from musculoskeletal problems blamed the fact they remained in the same position for long periods and 16% believed their work chair was a factor. However, more than a third (34%) put musculoskeletal pain down to the fact they are just getting older.


Gender inequality
Women suffer more pain than men. In the ShARP study one in three of the women had painful knees compared with one in five men.
Around 40% of women said their joint problems made them feel old before their time and 28% were depressed and frustrated. Only 25% of men said pain made them feel older and 23% reported being depressed.


Age takes its toll
The ShARP study shows back pain is more common as we get older, with 99% of over 50s reporting a problem in their back. Pain and stiffness doubles with age, with one in three over 55s reporting daily problems compared with just one in six 25-30s.
However, it does appear younger people suffer more neck and shoulder pain with 30% reporting pain in this area compared to 17% of over 55s. Being hunched over a computer screen could be the reason in the Facebook, Twitter and internet generation.


Where to get help
The most commonly used treatments for back pain by over 50s are painkillers with 63% using them. Long term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause gastric problems and are linked with a slightly increased risk of heart attack or stroke and therefore not recommended for anyone with a history of heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes.
Over the counter painkillers can be very useful but should not be taken for long periods without consulting your GP, particularly if you have any other medical conditions. You can consult your local pharmacist for advice and to purchase the appropriate treatment and discuss your options with your physiotherapist.