A new study shows London is risking a back pain epidemic caused by unhealthy habits and sedentary lifestyles. The findings from a study by the British Acupuncture Council, my professional body, to mark ‘Acupuncture Awareness Week’ (3rd-10th March 2014) show that almost 75 per cent of Londoners suffer with back pain yet admit to behaviours that put their backs under unnecessary strain1.
The study found that almost half of Londoners admit to eating on their lap, 46 per cent complain they sit at a desk all day and nearly two-fifths admit to watching TV or films in bed. When asked about their posture, 44% also admitted they slouch most of the time.
Further results reveal that when it comes to dealing with back pain, 75 per cent say they repeatedly use painkillers to deal with their discomfort rather than addressing the root cause of the problem.
Painkillers often numb the symptom and mask the problem but do not address many of the combined underlying causes of back pain. By stimulating different points of the body, traditional acupuncture can be extremely beneficial for back pain, providing long-term pain relief and reducing inflammation.
Despite acupuncture’s widely recognised health benefits, many of us are missing the point when it comes to this ancient Chinese medicine. Statistics show that 41 per cent of people would only consider acupuncture as a last resort and 88 per cent didn’t know the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends the therapy for persistent, non-specific lower back pain. Sadly many GPs do not recommend acupuncture for back pain despite NICE advising they should.
I find that many patients opt for the painkiller route with limited success before turning to acupuncture. Simple lifestyle changes alongside acupuncture could save millions of people taking medication every day. It’s important to recognise the impact our behaviour has on our bodies and to make sure we are fully informed about all treatment options to promote long-term health and wellbeing.
1 One Poll survey, December 2013