In light of 4 in 5 adults suffering from back-related issues during their lifetime, Northgate Vehicle Hire analysed UK prescription data for back pain medications revealing that there has been a 217% year-on-year increase in prescriptions for back pain across the UK since 2017.
With back troubles being a leading cause of work absence, Northgate Vehicle Hire spoke to psychotherapist and spokesperson for the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) Ali Ross, about how people can look after their mental health when taking time off work.
“Taking time off work is a break from normality and a shift in routine which can bring about many challenges. When we lose a sense of time in the week, which is typically structured by work, days can blend into one, both whizzing past and dragging out all at the same time. This can create a sense of sadness that time is running away from you and you are lacking stimulation.
“Injury also often means a loss of mobility and pain. Where we might otherwise use the time off work to exercise, stretch, and get outside; this would not be a possibility with injury. Both these psychological and physical impacts can be hugely debilitating. It is also worth mentioning that if you are in a competitive working environment, time away can cause significant anxiety about decisions being made without our oversight, leaving you feeling powerless as our work identity changes around us.”
Here are some tips on how to look after your mental health when taking time off work:
- Maintain social connections. One major shift in your day-to-day when not working is the loss of social interaction. This makes it more important than ever to keep in touch with friends, family or support groups.
- Escape the home environment. Staying as active as possible and making an effort to get out of your home environment is one of the best ways to look after your mental health when taking time off work.
- Self-care. Take time to do things that make you feel good, whether that be going for a walk, taking a bath, or indulging in your favourite hobbies. Eating and sleeping well is vital for both physical and mental recovery.
- Seek Professional health. Therapy can help you turn this time into an opportunity for reflection, to reassess where you are in your life, in your body, your career. They can offer support and guidance to help you through this difficult time.
People in the North West of England are more likely to suffer from chronic back pain
Bolton, a town in Greater Manchester, has the highest proportion of people suffering from back pain in the UK. The prescription data shows that an average of 122 prescriptions are prescribed each year per 1,000 people. This is a staggering 177% higher than the UK average of 44 annual prescriptions per 1,000 people. Bolton has also seen the ninth largest year-on-year increase inappropriate medication, with an average 243% increase each year since 2017.
Southport and Formby rank second with 115.6 prescriptions each year per 1,000 people, followed by Oldham (111.9 prescriptions), Blackpool (93.5 prescriptions) and Tameside and Glossop (92.9 prescriptions) respectively ranking third, fourth and fifth.
As demonstrated, there is a heavy concentration of Brits experiencing back pain in the North West of England, with all of the top ten most affected areas falling in this region. This is further reflected by Bury (263%), South Sefton (253%), Manchester (249%) and Southport and Formby (249%) all seeing the top five largest year-on-year prescription increases since 2017, with the Northern city of Bradford seeing the third biggest increase of 250%.