Back pain

Back pain

Back pain is very common.  It’s also an issue that has ‘flared’ this week in our household.  For most people back pain goes away after a few weeks but for some it can last months and years.


What is back pain?

Our backs are complex structures and quite literally hold us up.  The spine itself is usually not the cause of pain but rather the connective tissues, joints and muscles surrounding it can become damaged and cause pain.


What causes back pain?

Medical conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis can cause back pain.

Other causes include lifting objects that are too heavy or using poor technique, sudden unusual movements, being overweight, being inactive and stress/extreme tension.


What should I do if I hurt my back?

Proper assessment by your Doctor or allied health professional such as an osteopath or physiotherapist is vital so that the correct plan can be put in place for treatment and recovery.


Treatment of back pain

Staying mobile is an important part of back pain treatment.  Your health professional will show you what exercises are safe to do relevant to your injury.

Anti-inflammatories can be effective in oral and topical forms however precaution should be taken with their use in people with certain medical conditions and medications.  Always ask your Pharmacist or Doctor before taking new medications.

Some people with back pain that lasts a short time are at risk of pain occurring again and thus should take care with certain activities.

Some people have back pain that is ongoing.  Medication, exercises, weight reduction, relaxation and sometimes seeing a psychologist are important aspects of ongoing back pain care.


Take as directed

Take as directed

Part of my role in performing Home Medicines Reviews is finding out what medicines people are taking and how they take them.  This is often in stark contrast to what and how their Doctor and Pharmacist think they are doing!


Do you read the label?

How many of you read the label on a medication that you have dispensed?  Do you just rely on what you think the Doctor told you to do or what you think you should do?  Even if you remember how many times a day you are supposed to take it it is unlikely that the Doctor explained to you how to take it in relation to food and other medicines.  It’s important to get this right as some medicines should be taken with food and some without.  Some medicines also need to be taken away from other medicines.  This information will be on the main label or extra stick on labels on your medicine.

The main reason medicines should be taken with/without food and away from other medicines is to ensure the medicine works fully.  We want to get maximum benefit from medicines so ensure that you take them as directed. 

Sometimes a medicine can cause upset stomach and this can be reduced or eliminated if it is taken with food.


To fridge or not to fridge

I am often amazed to discover that people keep their medicines in the fridge.  Sure there are some medicines that should be kept in the fridge and these will be labelled as such.  If it doesn’t say to keep it in the fridge then don’t!  Moisture is not something that is wanted around most medicines.  The best place to keep your medicines is in the pantry away from heat and moisture (also keep them up high away from children and pets).


Other interesting uses of medicines

I have come across many interesting ways to take medicines including;

  • A woman who sometimes took her morning medicines late at night before bed in case she slept in in the morning! This was quite dangerous as she took some medicines twice daily and thus had night and “morning” doses very close together.
  • A gentleman who found it inconvenient to take a medicine as two tablets three times daily so took three tablets two times daily. He thus exceeded the safe amount for the medicine at each dose and ran the risk of liver damage and also did not receive sufficient pain relief as he had times during the day where there was no medicine in his body (except his liver!).


Pharmacist advice

When a Pharmacist chats with you about your medicine and gives advice it is because they want you to get the best use of your medicine.

As I like to say “it is for the good of your health not mine that I’m giving you this advice!”



Autism is not caused by MMR vaccination – more evidence

Autism is not caused by MMR vaccination

It has been shown previously that there is no link between receiving the Measles Mumps Rubella vaccination and autism.

Recent results of a study in Denmark, of more than 650 000 people, that lasted more than ten years have shown no link and this study went one step further.  It looked at those people who may be considered high risk for developing autism to see if there was a greater risk of them developing it.  No link between vaccination and autism was found in this group either.

The MMR vaccination was linked to autism in an article published in 1998 by a Doctor.  This Doctor was later deregistered due to falsifying data and conflicts of interest with his study.  As often happens when things are incorrectly reported in the media the damage had been done and people the world over became scared to vaccinate their children due to fear of causing autism.  Social media certainly played a role in perpetuating this myth that has not been shown in any of a number of studies.

Most of us have not seen a child suffering with Measles due to the large number of the population being immunised.  This can make some people complacent and think that vaccination may not be necessary.  It is important to remember that brain damage can occur with Measles.

Winter sport time

Winter sport time


Summer has finally (and sadly for me) ended. With this comes the psychological change of things getting colder. Less beach time, less daylight and cooler water if I feel like having a swim.

What this change of season does bring is the traditional winter sports; soccer, netball, rugby union, rugby league and AFL. There are also the ongoing touch football and various football “tag” competitions.

One of the most common injuries from all of these sports is the rolled or sprained ankle. There are various levels of seriousness for the injury, primarily they are a soft tissue injury that with the correct care and rehabilitation can have the athlete back on the field reasonably quickly.

One of the things becoming common place across many sports, particularly in junior sports, is the belief that wearing an ankle brace or using “preventative taping” will minimise the chance of injury. This can be an expensive and unnecessary exercise (pun intended) for an athlete who has never injured their ankle before. Proper training sessions allow our children/young athletes the opportunity to develop, build reflexes and react to movement and position of the body that occurs in their chosen sport. This is known as proprioception. If we brace or tape preventatively, we could be giving our children a crutch they don’t need. You don’t see children in kindergarten using a walker!

If they have injured an ankle seek medical advice. Do the proper rehabilitation exercises and there is every possibility that the ankle will be stronger than it was before. Why? Because the athlete has focussed on strengthening the soft tissue around the joint. Will they be using tape after the injury? That will depend on the specialists advice. It is likely but rarely a lifelong recommendation. Initial taping after exercise does help with the psychological confidence and proprioceptive awareness whilst recovering. Does it mean you need to tape it forever? Highly unlikely.

So why are many people encouraging kids to do this? We see all the highly paid athletes on television getting strapped up prior to the game or even mid game. They even have different coloured tape that looks cool! Unfortunately that’s where a lot of kids (and their parents) see this as the way it should be done. What you need to remember is that these athletes are paid a lot of money to play their sport and missing a game through injury could be detrimental to their season or sometimes their career. It is their profession, their job, and the only way many of them can make a living. Given the short time they can remain at the highest level, they will do anything they can to stay on the field or court.

What we don’t see is the years of training and competing that these athletes have gone through to get to that level. During that time there have been countless injuries, and due to the demand on them to continue, they play partially injured. This is why we see so many of them with practically every joint covered in tape or with a brace.

What we also rarely see is how their bodies are after they retire and the daily pain many of them go through. Many of you or your children may have the aspiration to make it as the next sporting superstar. That is something that you can encourage and if they do make it to that level they will have the best medical advice and assistance possible within their chosen sport. Remember that it is only 1% of the top 1% that make it to that elite level.

Encourage children to do the proper exercises and training to strengthen their bodies to help prevent those injuries and save your wallet.