Northern Echo reporter Neil Hunter visits the Sunderland Back Pain Centre and speaks to osteopath Jason Oshinowo about all the little niggles that have accumulated over the years.

THEY were four words I didn’t expect to hear, and ones which have caused an instant lifestyle change.

“You’re no spring chicken,” said back specialist Jason Oshinowo after carrying out a spinal MoT at his North- East clinic.

His diagnosis sent a chill down my spine as I thought I was in reasonable shape despite recently turning 40. Admittedly, regular proper exercise fell by the wayside several years ago with hectic home and work lives to try to juggle.

But I still thought that busy schedule afforded enough energy expenditure to qualify it as physical exertion.

Obviously, kicking a ball around the garden or park with the kids doesn’t really replace high-impact five-a-side football. Lifting the boys in and out of the learner pool in between playing sharks and divers isn’t really swimming, either.

I was aware I wasn’t in the same shape I was when I regularly ran up to 30 miles a week and played football every week. And I knew the aches and pains from everyday chores such as gardening and DIY were becoming more frequent.

I’d also suffered back problems for the best part of 20 years without ever getting lasting relief from various treatments. So, it was with some hope that I travelled to the Sunderland Back Pain Centre with the aim of finally getting to the bottom of the problem.

Jason, who opened the clinic in John Street, with his wife, Bronyia, in 2007, did not take long to find faults. Restricted and dysfunctional joints were located in the shoulder, in the upper back and in the base of the spine.

The recommendations for remedy include a course of treatment consisting of osteopathy, massage, stretching and exercise. Stressreducing techniques such as meditation, yoga to increase flexibility, and regular swimming to increase cardiovascular exercise are also on the cards.

Jason, who graduated in osteopathic medicine at the British college of Osteopathic Medicine in 2001, has helped me do something about it.

I was aware there was a problem, and he has identified it and explained what can be done to sort it out – before it’s too late.

As a teenager, he suffered from sportrelated back pain and received treatment from an osteopath who got him interested in musculoskeletal medicine.

He says he opened the clinic to meet the growing demand and lack of supply of specialist private treatment for musculoskeletal pain – specifically back and neck pain – in the region.

“Our vision was to bring together under one roof a specialist team of osteopaths, chiropractors, massage therapists and physiotherapists who work together to provide a holistic approach to back and neck pain treatment and prevention,” he says. “Our spinal MoTs are designed to catch spinal problems early before they become painful.”

Jason tested me for – among a host of things – abnormal muscle function, gait, mobility, muscle strength, posture and reflexes. The posture assessment involved side and back-view photographs, which also identified head and shoulders being held too far forward, causing a rounded upper back and tension in the neck.

Jason and his team have the aim of taking – and keeping – away pain, and use a four-stage approach to achieve their goals.

Diagnosis will be followed by initial intensive treatment which could last up to six weeks. Next, corrective care aims to improve any underlying problems while specific exercise and stretches will be recommended to improve spine flexibility. The final phase – known as maintenance care – is regular MoTs to prevent any conditions returning.

• Sunderland Back Pain Centre can be contacted on 0191-565-8886.