Persistent pain? Keep moving!

The old-fashioned treatment for painful conditions was bed rest for weeks or months on end. We now know this is the worst possible approach. Exercise and continuing to work are key to recovery.

Forget resting if you have a painful condition like back or neck pain. Lying in bed for long periods may actually make the pain last longer, because inactivity makes you stiffen up, your muscles and bones get weaker, you don't sleep well, you become lonely and depressed, and the pain feels worse.

You'll also find that it becomes harder and harder to get going again.

A better approach to reducing pain is a combination of exercise, staying at work, physical therapy and painkillers.

Exercise to beat pain

Choose an exercise that won't put too much strain on yourself. Good options include:

  • walking 
  • swimming 
  • exercise bike 
  • dance/yoga/pilates
  • most daily activities and hobbies 

Activity and stretching needs to become part of your lifestyle so you routinely do exercise little and often.

Try to be active every day, instead of only on the good days when you're not in so much pain. This may reduce the number of bad days you have and help you feel more in control. 

If possible, try to go to work despite the pain!

It's important to try to stay in work even though you're in pain. Research shows that people become less active and more depressed when they don't work.

Being at work will distract you from the pain and won't make your pain worse. 

If you have a heavy job, you may need some help from colleagues. Talk to your supervisor or boss about the parts of your job that may be difficult to begin with, but stress that you want to be at work.

If you have to stay off work for a while, try to get back as soon as possible.

You could go back to work gradually; this is called a "graded return". For instance, you might start with one day a week and gradually increase the time you spend at work. 

You could also agree changes to your job or pattern of work, if it helps – talking to a health and safety rep or an occupational health department may be useful here.

Physical therapy for pain

Pain experts often recommend a short course of physical therapy. This helps you to move better, relieves your pain, and makes daily tasks and activities, such as walking, going up stairs, or getting in and out of bed, easier. 

Physical therapy for persistent pain can involve manipulation, stretching exercises and pain relief exercises. 

This can be delivered by one of our osteopaths. Acupuncture (which can also be helpful) is also offered at the Bexleyheath Osteopathic Practice, especially for back pain and neck pain.

Osteopaths can give you advice on the right type of exercise and activity. 

If you have physical therapy, you should begin to feel the benefits after a few sessions. 

Your GP may be able to refer you for physical therapy on the NHS, unfortunately osteopathy in the London Borough of Bexley is only available privately.

Your GP may also refer you for exercise classes, and some centres have specific classes for low back pain. It is good to talk to others that suffer from conditions similar to you, and to share ways of managing painful conditions.


These can be "over the counter” remedies like paracetemol or ibuprofen, or they can be prescribed by the doctor. Be sure to always read the label and talk to your GP immediately if you have any concerns!!

Persistent pain can be a disabling problem and because it is complicated it tends to require a combined approach to care. At the Bexleyheath Osteopathic Practice we are here to do our part, and to help you!

Please call us on 020 8298 7122 if you would like to book an appointment.

© Bexleyheath Ostepathic Practice 2013