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neck & back pain physiotherapy St Albans

The condition

Neck and back problems are very common. About 80% of people will suffer a period of the condition in their lifetime. The majority of these disorders will get better. The problem is when back pain doesn't  improve in the expected healing time and it becomes chronic.

Research shows that only around 15% of chronic low back pain disorders show up on scans and X-rays, which means 85% of patients have no known diagnosis for their problem. Instead, a classification of ‘non-specific chronic low back pain’ is given to their problem which makes management very difficult.

Neck and back problems can result in spinal pain plus  a wide variety of additional symptoms such as:

  • pins and needles in your upper or lower limbs

  • numbness or weakness in your upper or lower limbs

  • pain in the mid back or chest 

  • headaches and dizziness 

​The origin of your discomfort may come from several sources including spinal discs, joints, ligaments, muscles and nerve tissue.

The good news is that most pain can be modified with good-quality physiotherapy and by understanding the physiology of pain.

By understanding your symptoms you will feel much more in control of your condition and able to take some important steps towards recovery.

If you have experienced a lot of other treatments and not got better, we would love to see you. We can help you regain the confidence to relax, move and discuss ways of how you can begin to regain your fitness.

Assessment & treatment

We will start by actively listening to your patient story. We will then, with your consent, conduct a detailed physical assessment. It's likely that the initial appointment will focus on advice about managing the pain/your presenting problem. Later sessions will deal with treatment approaches such as manual therapy, muscle release, neural mobilisations, muscle re-education and teaching you specific exercises. 

Many patients we meet have become fearful of bending their back because of the pain they have been experiencing. We will focus on giving you the confidence to bend again as staying in a rigid position will exacerbate your problems. We know this may feel challenging/wrong but we will teach you how your back actually LOVES bending.

At all times, our aim is that you feel fully involved and understand the reasoning behind the treatment being delivered. Our goal is to deliver a treatment plan which empowers patients to take control back of their bodies and achieve their individual goals.

Latest thinking

We increasingly understand that there are many factors that can amplify pain. These factors include sleep hygiene (how well you sleep/how many hours sleep you get a night), stress (work-related/personal issues), cardiovascular fitness, low mood and lack of hope.

Another important factor is your previous pain experience. If you have experienced severe pain in the past it is likely that your brain will have developed an unhelpful pain memory in relation to that previous experience. It will be our job to help you understand how these factors may be contributing to on-going symptoms. 

Care needed in interpreting scans

Improved resolution in imaging from X-ray/MRI/CT/ultrasound has meant we can now get detailed pictures of the precise part of our body which could be causing us problems.

However, there is an increasing body of evidence that tells us to interpret these findings with caution. Some changes shown on scans are in fact normal for that patient if their age is taken into account. The modern approach is therefore to consider the all of these factors together.

We at Move and Improve will therefore look at your clinical picture and then look at the X-ray/MRI scan results in context of how you are feeling and how your symptoms present.

And remember 70 is the new 50 - the most important thing is to keep active. MOTION is LOTION, MOVE and IMPROVE.


Worth a watch

This is a brilliant 2-minute video about sciatica by Anina Schmidt who is an Associate Professor in Neuro Science at Oxford University.

A recently released video which explains the latest thinking about back pain and how to manage it.

Professor Pet O'Sullivan, a world-class clinician and researcher, showing the importance of understanding your back pain, learning to relax and getting normal movement back again.

Worth a read

If you're interested in a more technical explanation of neck/back pain and how they could be treated, here's three articles for you to download.


"I met Kate having been suffering with ever worsening constant sciatic pain throughout my left leg for 6 months. Her careful, kind and professional treatment really challenged what I believed could be achieved. 10 weeks later I am pain free and have returned from a sking holiday that I was sure I would have to cancel. All I have had to do was act on Kate's expert coaching. Kate - you're amazing!"


"The 10 weeks I spent with Kate were honestly transformational.  At our first session she gave me quick strategies that immediately reduced my back and leg pain levels, we then worked together to analyse how I moved and re-build my strength. Kate took me back-to-basics: we looked at how I stood; sat; bent over; got up out of a chair, and by making small changes to my everyday movements I took control of my recovery."


My experience with Dionne at Move and Improve has genuinely been outstanding - I have nothing but positive words to say. I understand my body so much better than before and believe that I am better prepared to prevent injury in future. This is in addition to feeling fully supported throughout my recovery which I do not think could have been handled any better.


"Thank you, Dionne, it’s really refreshing to meet someone who does really care and does listen to you and that gives sound advice. If I should ever need any help again, I will definitely be in touch. All the best"


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