Do you frequently wish that you didn’t have to feel the gardening from the day before?

Well, as of right now, you’re in good company; 4 out of 5 South African’s suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives. In fact, it is a problem for 540 million people globally and is one of the most common reasons for missing work.

An article in the medical journal, The Lancet, commented that the treatment prescribed for back pain is often a waste of time and that significant health resources are being wasted. The article details the overuse of inappropriate treatments stating that a high proportion of patients are treated in emergency rooms, encouraged to rest and stop work, are commonly referred for scans or surgery, or are prescribed painkillers (including opioids).

Turns out that most back pain is the result of simple every day strains or sprains. We lift heavy boxes, carry our entire lives in our purses and hunch over our desks without giving it another thought; it’s part of life, right? But thing is, our bodies are not designed for this. According to Todd Sinett, co-author of The Truth About Back Pain, some seemingly insignificant everyday habits can take a big toll on your back over time. The good news is that the prognosis is excellent. Scans are rarely needed, and bed rest is not helpful.

There is strong evidence that keeping active is important in recovery. In fact, prolonged bed rest is associated with higher levels of pain, greater disability, poorer recovery, and longer absence from work.

We have a few tips on how to minimise your risk of experiencing back pain:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid sitting for too long. Make sure that your office chair and desk are ergonomically aligned to support your back. Sit with your feet flat on the floor or on a footstool and stand up and move every half hour.
  • Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Sleep on your side with your knees bent towards your chest. Invest in a supportive mattress as well as a pillow that promotes proper alignment of your neck.
  • Bend your knees instead of your waist when lifting objects. Keep your back straight.
  • Avoid carrying heavy sling bags, carry loads in a rucksack.
  • Remain active. Start by going for short walks. The benefits are plentiful, including strengthening of the core muscles, increased circulation to the tissues around the spine, improved flexibility and the release of endorphins which is the body’s natural pain reliever.
  • Only wear heels on special occasions.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking impairs blood flow, resulting in oxygen and nutrient deprivation to spinal tissues.
  • Pay attention to the warning signs. If you experience pain and discomfort for more than 5 days, it’s time to see a doctor.

Fedhealth has an established programme for qualifying members suffering from back and neck problems.

Call 0860 002 153 – follow the prompts to the Disease Management Programme and select the Conservative Back and Neck Rehabilitation Programme, or send an email to for more information.


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.