Dr Neil Stakes explores common causes and solutions for back and neck pain.

Back and neck problems are estimated to affect up to 90 percent of all people during their lifetime. But these common afflictions are easily prevented by looking at the cause.


Is there a family history of neck or back pain? Curvature of the spine and congenital “short leg” can both lead to spinal problems over time, characterised by tilting hips and shoulders – either with or without a noticeable curve in the spine – typically when standing. The earlier these problems are identified the better. Unfortunately, however, they often to go unnoticed until the teenage years – a time of heightened sensitivity to physical scrutiny.

Postural patterns

Do you mirror the good or bad postural habits of your parents, siblings and peers? Any number of factors can influence our posture – television, the media and even celebrities – in addition to our home environment. You may have a natural tendency to slouch at the computer or dinner table.

Teens often mimic their peers by walking with round- shoulders. Addressing such postural patterns early is important in preventing long-term problems. Seeking corrective treatment and following a good exercise regime can both be extremely beneficial and effective.


In clinical practice, patients often relate current back and neck problems to injuries sustained in childhood years. Commonly, we over-compensate certain muscles in order to avoid pain in others setting a chain of events in motion which can result in weaknesses later in life. Incomplete healing and resolution of initial childhood problems can also result in recurrent problems.

For example, a child injures his or her left leg. Whilst wearing a cast the child develops a limp. Once the cast is removed, the limp persists – resulting in increased pressure on the right knee and hip. If this is not treated, the over-compensation may result in degeneration of the right knee, hip and/or lower back.

Other common problems such as joint pains and flat feet can also benefit from early detection. Joint pain should not always be dismissed as “growing pains”. And fl at foot screening is a very simple procedure. Wet one foot and stand on newspaper, to determine if you have a normal arch, high arch or flat arch.



Always choose comfort over appearance when selecting supportive footwear!

Customised orthotics can certainly help ease a number of foot problems and are available by prescription at Back II Life.

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