Basic Top Tips for back pain ​and behaviour change

MECC Principles

MECC is an INVITATION to the person to find out about back pain prevention

MECC is PERSON-CENTRED: Value their experience. Be sensitive and responsive to their needs. They are the expert on themselves. Only they know what really interests, motivates or is important to them.

Top tips for back pain

1. Exercise

If you have back pain, a gradual return to exercise and general  activity  is very helpful in managing and recovering from back pain. Regular exercises may also help to prevent the back pain from returning.

Try not to rest in bed. Bed rest is bad for backs, being active even though it may be uncomfortable is  better


2. HURT doesn't usually equal HARM

Sometimes people fear that the pain they feel means that there is damage to the back. They may also fear that exercise is damaging.

Pain doesn't usually equal harm. Most people will recover from back pain fairly quickly although the length of time it takes can vary from person to person and sometimes back pain can be recurrent.

Either way, Keeping active is the best option. When you are physically active, experiencing initial soreness is common. It is important to keep active even so, and to remain active once the back pain has gone to prevent a re-occurrence.

Motion is lotion

Movement is medicine

3. Take a simple painkiller

[box]It is best to take a painkiller on a regular basis rather than now and again. This will help you to continue with your day-to-day activities more comfortably. Ask your pharmacist for advice on which painkiller to take. [/box]

Behaviour change tips

Changing the incidence of any behaviour of an individual or population involves changing one or more of the following: capability, opportunity and motivation, relating to the behaviour itself or to behaviours that compete or support it (Michie et al. The Behaviour Change Wheel . 2014).

This is the COM-B Model of behaviour change

Capability: The physical strength, knowledge, skills etc needed to perform the behaviour; the ability to overcome barriers to performance. Are there prompts or reminders to change? What would help the person feel more capable of making some small steps to change? What are their barriers to change and what will help them to overcome those barriers?

e.g. would you like some information about how doing some simple things every day to keep active can help reduce your risk of back problems?

Opportunity: There must be the opportunity for the behaviour to occur eg it is accessible? affordable? sufficient time to do it?  are there prompts to do it?

e.g. Did you know there is lots of free information on the Change4Life website?

Motivation: The person must be more highly motivated to do the behaviour at the relevant time than not to do the behaviour, or to engage in some competing behaviour.  Do they see the importance of back health? Can they imagine some of the benefits of making some changes?

e.g. If you keep active then you will be able to manage your back pain more effectively. If you had less back pain what sort of benefits would that bring you?

Think about COM-B in every conversation. What can you say to help the person feel more capable of change, feel more motivated to change, and to have the opportunity to change?