Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), including back pain, shoulder pain, joint problems and neck pain, affect millions of people in the UK every year. They are the most common cause of ill health in the UK workforce, affecting twice as many people as our second biggest health concern, stress.
Back pain alone is responsible for over 2.5 million people visiting their GP every year. According to research body The Work Foundation, 33% of the UK population are suffering from back pain at any one time, and the condition will affect 80% of adults at some point in their lives.
In the vast majority of back pain cases, GPs are unable to give a specific diagnosis. The cause of MSDs remains a big mystery.
The Missing Link…
We are familiar with the symptoms of MSDs, most commonly, pain, aching and loss of movement. We also have many approaches to treating or ameliorating these symptoms, ranging from physical approaches such as painkillers, surgery, physiotherapy, chiropractic, osteopathy, massage, the Alexander Technique, strength training and yoga to nutritional approaches, energy work and even belief-change work – to name just a few! Sometimes, these approaches can work wonders, yet other times, the pain persists. What still remains a mystery, despite the fact that these conditions that affect most of us during our lifetimes, is what actually causes back pain and other problems with the musculoskeletal system.
The commonly-cited 'back pain causes'
Injury: Sometimes there is an identifiable trigger – a work- or sports-related injury, an accident, postural misalignment or repetitive strain injury. Yet there remain questions even in these seemingly clear-cut cases: why does one particular muscle get strained when a person falls, while another person who experiences a similar fall injures a different muscle? Is it simply to do with bio-mechanics? Or is it possible that one person may have a pre-existing weakness in one muscle and the other person in a different muscle?