I am worried that my symptoms will get worse…
Very rarely do people’s symptoms stop them from undertaking regular physical activity. Being more active has been shown to reduce pain and fatigue, and to improve physical function, wellbeing and joint stiffness. However, some people do find that their symptoms appear worse. This can happen for a number of reasons, but often this is due to an individual’s body adapting to the new activity. It is normal for anyone who is not used to being physically active to experience some muscle soreness after doing a new exercise and this pain will reduce as they become more accustomed to the activity. Worsening symptoms may be due to increasing activity too quickly – reducing activity levels a little and then gradually increasing them again more slowly can help. If symptoms are too severe, the support of a professional such as a physiotherapist may help.
Consider a referral to a physical activity service with psychological support in those that are particularly fearful of moving, activity avoidant or low in confidence. The use of validated risk stratification tools, such as the StarT Back Screening Tool for those with back pain (https://www.keele.ac.uk/sbst/), can help identify those at higher risk of poor clinical outcome.
Tips you may wish to share:
- Regular physical activity does not damage joints
- Stronger muscles help support joints, improving pain
- Symptoms can be managed
Hill JC, Whitehurst DGT, Lewis M, et al.Comparison of stratified primary care management for low back pain with current best practice (STarT Back): A randomised controlled trial. Lancet2011;378:1560–71. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60937-9