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Ben Fogle Raises Awareness of Pneumonia

Ben Fogle

Adventurer, writer and TV favourite Ben Fogle today is launching a new campaign urging the nation to be aware of pneumonia symptoms. The much-loved star talks about his personal experience of pneumonia in a new campaign video; showing that anyone could be at risk of contracting the respiratory disease.

Using a jar of water to visually represent the lungs filling with fluid, Ben describes the symptoms he experienced when he had pneumonia and the potential consequences of the disease.

“At first thought I thought it was just a cold, but I soon realised it was much more. I had a raspy, watery sound to my breath”, says Ben. “It was obvious there was a problem with my chest as I was struggling to breathe. It was frightening.”

Ben Fogle

Pneumonia can affect anyone, and often occurs in the autumn and winter months. As it is similar to other chest infections, it can be difficult to diagnose and some people may not realise they have pneumonia until they visit a doctor.

“I was pretty shocked to hear that I had pneumonia as I had no idea it affected people my age,” says Ben. “I was under forty at the time and physically in peak condition, but I had been ill a few months before and my immune system was weakened as a result.

"Pneumonia completely wipes you out and it took quite some time to feel fully recovered – I cannot imagine what it must feel like for people who are older than me.”

The infection can progress very quickly, with nearly half of patients who are diagnosed by their GP ending up in hospital. Of those who develop pneumonia, over 26,000 will die, making it one of the most common causes of death due to infection in adults.

Ben has taken the first step to promoting awareness of pneumonia by sharing his story with the nation, encouraging the public to be aware of the symptoms of pneumonia and the steps they can take to protect themselves.

Ben Fogle

“I didn’t realise at the time there was any way to help prevent the disease,” says Ben. “My advice would be to learn the facts about pneumonia and look into methods of prevention.”

Prevention can come in many forms, including taking care of yourself with good hygiene and a healthy lifestyle. Vaccination can also help prevent one of the major causes of pneumonia.

Some people are more at risk than others for developing pneumonia, for instance people with long term medical conditions such as HIV, COPD or diseases causing weakened immunity. Even smoking or flu can increase your chances of developing the disease.

  Watch Ben Fogle's video
      about pneumonia

     Click on arrow to watch

To find out more information about pneumonia and how to protect yourself, please visit

Safe Relief from Sore Throats with Throaty Soothe

Throaty Soothe

Grandparents, parents and kids have a new and safe approach for treating sore throats — Throaty Soothe. Just launched, Throaty Soothe is a unique combination of Icelandic moss extract, and mallow extract, which help calm and curb sore throat symptoms.

The odds of anyone avoiding a cold are akin to winning the lottery. Adults can expect to catch two to five colds a year and children can pick up as many as 10, with infections peaking as temperatures plunge.

One theory, put forward by experts at the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University, is that cold air-cools the nasal lining, which causes vasoconstriction in the nose and upper airways. They believe this reduction in blood supply is sufficient to suppress our immunity enough to allow a low-level infection with no symptoms to turn into a full-blown cold with a catalogue of uncomfortable symptoms.

Often the first sign of infection is a dry, scratchy and sore throat  - and in many cases the first remedy people reach for is paracetamol. But experts, including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, warn they could be putting children at risk of kidney, liver and heart damage.

Throaty Soothe Fast Facts

Throaty Soothe, available as a syrup or lozenges, contains no paracetamol and offers a natural and effective solution for sore throats.

Throaty Soothe syrup — which is suitable for all adults and children from 12 months of age, and Throaty Soothe lozenges for all adults and children aged four and older — contain a calming and caring combination of proven soothers and cold fighters — Icelandic moss and mallow.

Unpacking the Science behind Throaty Soothe

Icelandic moss is not as well known in the UK as some medicinal herbs, but has a long history of traditional use as a treatment for sore throat and coughs. It is a demulcent with proven, activity.

Around 50% of the plant consists of polysaccharides with bioadhesive properties. Bioad-hesion is the subject of on-going studies investigating how this natural bonding, or stickiness, can be used to improve drug delivery. Icelandic moss also contains the expectorant and antioxidant fumarprotocetraric acid and traces of usnic acid.

Both Icelandic moss and mallow are listed by the World Health Organisation and European Medi-cines Agency as medicinal herbs with a history of use for the treatment of sore throat and cough.

Throaty Soothe - How it Works

The demulcent action of Throaty Soothe lozenges and syrup forms a protective film, creating a natural barrier directly on the mucous membranes in the mouth and throat, which soothes the irritated mucous membranes in the throat and prevents other pathogens from penetrating and calms coughs.

Available in a 100ml bottle. Throaty Soothe Syrup is a sugar-free formulation with a delicious cherry flavour. Throaty Soothe Lozenges are strawberry flavoured and are great to use on the go. They are available in packs of 24 lozenges.

Both deliver a dual action formula, which soothes and protects, and because they physically target the site of soreness, and contain no paracetamol, they are safe to use in combination with other medicines if needed.

Tried & Tested by Jenny Itzcovitz

I often get a dry throat, when I'm working at my desk and I've been talking on the phone or at my ballroom dancing lessons, so I was delighted to try Throaty Soothe.

I really liked the handy pack which contains a generous 24 lozenges, so it won't run out too quickly. The lozenges were delicious with a gentle strawberry flavour, perfect for keeping my throat lubricated as I tend to cough after talking too long!

It's reassuring that they are safe to use without paracetamol and are free from artificial colours. The pack does warn, however, that you shouldn't take more than three lozenges a day, and they should be kept out of sight or reach of children. So I now keep a pack safe in my desk drawer for those days when I get a sore throat or dry cough. I've also got a spare blister strip in my bag for ballroom dancing!

Throaty Soothe is available to buy from Tesco Stores,, Amazon. Price is £6.99 for a pack of 24 lozenges.

For more information about Throaty Soothe click on

  Healthy March Recipe

 Herby Turkey with
     Cherry Quinoa

Herby Turkey with Cherry Quinoa

Turkey is lean and nutritious and can be enjoyed all the year round. Make it with quinoa for a filling and healthy family meal.

This nutritious recipe has been created by Waitrose.


·  6 cloves garlic
· 2 tbsp rosemary leaves
· 1 tsp sea salt
· 2 kg turkey, breast joint
· 15g melted butter
· 300g quinoa
· 200g dried cherries
· 1 tbsp olive oil
· 20g parsley, roughly chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 200
°C/gas 6. Place the garlic, rosemary and salt in a mortar and pestle and pound until it forms a paste.

2. Place the turkey, skin-side down, on a board or clean surface. Make a vertical cut partway into the centre of the breast and open out like a book. Use a rolling pin to bash the meat out slightly. Spread the herb paste evenly over the surface; firmly roll the turkey up to form a cylinder.

3. Use kitchen string to tie it at 2cm intervals. Put it in a large roasting tray; brush the entire surface with melted butter and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4. Roast in the oven for 1 hour. Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa well and place in a large saucepan with 700ml cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until all the water has evaporated – 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; add the dried cherries, olive oil and seasoning to taste.

5. Once the turkey has had an hour in the oven, take it out and place the quinoa in the base of the tray around it. Return to the oven and roast for a further 20 minutes, or until the turkey is golden brown and the juices run clear. Cover the turkey loosely with foil and set aside to rest for 20 minutes before slicing. Transfer the quinoa to a serving bowl and garnish with the parsley leaves.

Serves 8 and makes leftovers

For more information and other delicious recipes click on

Health & Fitness

Are You Getting Enough Sunlight?

Dr Sally Norton

By Dr Sally Norton, founder

Up to 10 million Brits are simply not getting enough sunlight to make the right levels of Vitamin D. That’s about 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 children. There are certain groups of people in particular that are more at risk and the risk is greatest between October to April when the sun isn’t out very often.

What has the sun got to do with it?

Sunlight is an essential source of Vitamin D

Well, quite a lot! We don’t get much vitamin D from foods – we make it in our skin when it is exposed to sunlight. The winter sun is insufficient and not of the right wavelength for us to make much Vitamin D. Sunlight is so important that statistics show 8% of adults have Vitamin D deficiency in the summer compared to 39% in winter. When we don’t get enough sunlight, our Vitamin D levels decline – it’s that simple.

Why do we need Vitamin D?

We all know that Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones; it helps our bones to mineralise, keeping them hard and strong. And research has suggested that Vitamin D aids our immune system – which is not only what helps use to ward off coughs and colds but has also been linked to a reduced risk of developing Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Interestingly, deficiency also appears to be linked with obesity and depression.

Who is at risk of Vitamin D deficiency?

Any of us could become Vitamin D deficient without the right levels of sunlight, or a supplement. However, for some groups of people it is especially important they get the right levels of Vitamin D – either because they are more at risk of deficiency or because their need is greater. These groups are:

· Children under 5

· Pregnant and breastfeeding women

People over 65

· People with low, or no exposure to the sun

People with darker skin

What can you do?

Oily fish and eggs are a good source of Vitamin D

Oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, and eggs are sources of vitamin D. They are also good sources of omega 3 and protein anyway, so are worth making part of your diet.

Also good is to get outdoors at every opportunity – fresh air and exercise have numerous other benefits too. If you think you could be at risk of Vitamin D deficiency, then you could speak to your doctor, who may be able to run a routine test to check on your Vitamin D levels. Alternatively, just take a supplement in the winter.

The recommended daily amount of Vitamin D is around 10 micrograms/day (400 IU) for an adult. For babies and young children, the recommended daily amount of Vitamin D is 7 – 8.5 micrograms. Don’t think that more is better – overdoing it could cause side effects.

So, in a nutshell, eat plenty of oily fish, get outside in the fresh air as often as possible, and certainly when the sun is out. Consider taking a supplement during the winter months at least, and perhaps all year round if you are in a higher-risk group.

Dr Sally Norton is a Health Expert and NHS weight loss consultant surgeon. Sally is also the founder of  

Always seek the advice of your GP before taking vitamin supplements

Introducing Lagom With Everything
in Moderation

Do everything in moderation with Lagom

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the Hygge hype, get ready for the next big Scandi trend… Lagom! This new trend revolves around the concept of moderation, pronounced ‘lar-gohm’, the Scandinavian term that means ‘just the right amount’.

Rather than trying to fit some Hygge into your day, Lagom is a more general approach to achieving a thriftier and balanced lifestyle. The Lagom trend fits perfectly with people who are still trying to maintain their New Year's resolutions. Keeping spending habits in check, being less stressed out and pursuing healthier and more satisfying hobbies all fit into the Lagom lifestyle.

We’ve asked our experts for their top 5 tips to achieve Lagom.

Reduce Your Environmental Impact

An important part of Lagom is leading a lifestyle that you are doing your bit for the environment and living in moderation.

Make sure you’re always turning off your lights and that you’re using reusable shopping bags. If you want to also save on your heating bills while you’re helping the environment, you can invest in a thicker duvet or double-glazing.

Stress Less

Following a lifestyle that is centred around balance and moderation is one of the best ways to keep your stress levels in check.

If you start to feel a little bit overwhelmed remember that it’s okay to pair back your commitments. Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading nutritionist and author of ‘Natural Alternatives to Sugar’ (Amazon, £7.17) says, “If you feel the symptoms of stress coming on, learn to get your priorities right. There is nothing in your life right now more important than your health. Learn to say no if you feel that you have taken on too much.”

Eat With The Seasons

Eat with the seasons

Making meals with seasonal produce is not only good for your health but also for the environment and your purse strings!

Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at, explains, “Eating foods when in season means that you’ll be eating the way nature intended it. Summer fruits and vegetables tend to contain higher amounts of water, which dilutes their nutrient content. Compare this to winter fruits and veggies and you’ll find they’re richer in nutrients such as vitamin C and contain more valuable fibre.”

Moderate Your Portions

If you’re looking to bring Lagom into your kitchen, one of the easiest ways to achieve moderation is through correct portion sizes.

Nutritionist and weight loss expert, Lily Soutter ( recommends cooking just the right amount or putting away the leftovers straight away:

“Having just the right amount of food for each meal instantly eliminates any possibility of over eating. ‘Seconds’ can be hard to resist when serving pots of food are left on dining table. Minimise temptation by placing the serving pot back on the stove, or clearing the kitchen space immediately after cooking.”

Give Your Skin What It Needs

Soothing Skin Gel from What Skin Needs

Nourish your skin with products that it needs by getting back to natural skincare products. Make sure you always read the labels before buying products and look for organic ingredients that will clean not clog your skin! Look for ingredients like Aloe Vera, Jojoba Oil and Plantolin for balms and gels that can naturally soothe your skin, such as What Skin Needs Soothing Skin Gel (£14.99).

Dr Roger Henderson, GP with a special interest in dermatology, explains, "With so many skin products on the market, it pays to know exactly what you are putting on your skin. A natural skincare solution has many advantages over products containing potential toxins such as parabens, PEG compounds, Coal Tar Dyes, DEA and formaldehyde to name but a few.

"What Skin Needs products are based on the natural plant ingredient Plantolin that provides an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effect, benefiting conditions such as eczema and psoriasis."

For more information about What Skin Needs Soothing Gel visit

Tesco Launches Mole Screening Clinics

Test your moles at Tesco Mole Screen Clinic

Tesco is launching mole screening clinics to screen for skin cancer at its Huntingdon and Shoreham-by-sea stores in association with The MOLE Clinic™, making fast and convenient mole checking available to their customer to help save lives.

Skin cancer is one of our most common cancers. Detected early, it is easily removed, too late it takes lives. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is extremely difficult to treat if caught late but easy to treat if caught early.

The MOLE Clinic™ is the UK’s leading independent and award-winning centre for screening and diagnosis of skin cancer. Their TELEDerm technology for mole screening is a winner of the Patient Safety Award and widely used by NHS GPs.

The MOLE Clinic™ is the UK’s leading independent and award-winning centre for screening and diagnosis of skin cancer

Tesco Pharmacists now offer the TELEDerm technology enabling Tesco customers to have their moles imaged using teledermoscopy, a non-invasive technique which captures illuminated and highly magnified images beneath the surface of moles for diagnosis by MOLE Clinic skin specialists.

Iain Mack, Managing Director of The MOLE Clinic™ in London, said “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Tesco, bringing mole checking into daily lives will help early detection and undoubtedly save lives. With our service, the people of Huntingdon and Shoreham-by-sea now have the chance to check a mole they have been worried about for skin cancer.”

Puneet Janjua, Commercial Services Manager of Health, Beauty and Wellness at Tesco says, “Tesco are delighted to be working together with The Mole Clinic to offer a high quality skin cancer screening service at our busy pharmacies in Huntingdon and Shoreham-by-sea.

“Tesco Pharmacy is open late nights and weekends which offers consumers great convenience with free parking and you can look after your health and do your shopping at the same time. This is another great example of Tesco working with trusted partners who are experts in their field.”

The MOLE Clinic recommends that anyone with a new or changing mole or an odd-looking mole have it checked out by an expert

The MOLE Clinic recommends that anyone with a new or changing mole or an odd-looking mole have it checked out by an expert.

Mole screening with Tesco starts at £30 and results are usually available the next day.

For further information please visit the website at 

  Ten Foods to Keep
 You Fuller for Longer

Drizzling vinegar on your salad improves digestion by keeping food in the stomach longer, reducing the hunger hormone ghrelin

Within an hour of having breakfast are you already checking the clock, counting down the hours until lunch? To help deter your stomach from growling it’s important that you’re eating the right foods.

To resist your hand raiding the biscuit tin and finishing that extra large bag of crisps, we have asked our experts for extra-satisfying foods to aid you in keeping your appetite in check…

1. Beat cravings with Edamame Beans

“Edamame Beans are great to snack on or to add to soups, salads and casseroles. They are high in fibre to help make you feel full and help prevent overeating and snacking. They are a great way of keeping your appetite under control and have the added benefit of being high in protein, which will also help keep you fuller for longer,” explains Shona Wilkinson, Nutritionist from is the online shopping destination for all things health and wellbeing.

2. Have soup as a starter

“If you have soup before a meal you will end up eating fewer calories during the meal because soup stops the cells in the stomach producing your hunger hormone ghrelin and turns off your appetite.

“Studies show the body registers greater satisfaction when food is liquidised and soup moves out of the stomach more gradually than a solid meal would, leaving you feeling more satisfied for longer,” explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar (

3. ‘Egg-cellent’ for your hunger

“Eggs make a great snack as the combination of protein and good fats help you feel fuller for longer. Try boiling them in advance, and keeping them in the fridge as an easy snack to enjoy on the go. They will last up to a week,” says Shona.

4. Halt the hunger with Quinoa

“This gluten-free carbohydrate is packed full of protein. When protein is combined with a carbohydrate, it slows the rate at which sugar from that carbohydrate enters the blood stream. This is great for balancing blood sugar, reducing cravings for sugary ‘quick fixes’, and keeping us satiated,” explains Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns.

5. Boost your satisfaction with broccoli

“Broccoli is a great choice to help with weight loss mainly because it is so low in calories. Broccoli is also high in fibre and water – this helps create bulk without calories. The fibre helps make you feel full and also slows down digestion, which is a great way to help you to stop snacking,” explains Shona.

6. Opt for oats

Jazz up your porridge with goji berries, cinnamon, almond milk, and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds

“Loving porridge oats? Oats are packed with a form of soluble dietary fibre; ‘beta glucans’ which support healthy digestion and regular bowel movements with the excretion of dietary waste and toxins. These help prevent the bloat. Beta-glucans supports a reduction in the rise in blood glucose levels that occurs after meals. By keeping blood glucose levels stable, we feel fuller for longer and experience fewer of those nagging sweet cravings. Jazz up your oats with goji berries, cinnamon, almond milk, and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds,” suggests Marilyn.

“Porridge is a great breakfast for fitness fanatics or gym-goers – either before or after training. The slow-releasing carbohydrates in oats are fantastic for powering a workout or for restoring muscles after training, and magnesium is vital for muscle function too. Try Nairn's Scottish Porridge Oats (£2.59, Tesco),
adds Cassandra.

7. Drizzle Vinegar on your salad

“Drizzling vinegar on your salad improves digestion by keeping food in the stomach longer, reducing the hunger hormone ghrelin. Vinegar also helps prevent blood sugar spikes after a meal, helping cravings for up to 3 hours after,” explains Shona.

8. Get yourself some Greek yogurt

“Greek yogurt is a great source of protein which helps you to stay fuller for longer and is low in sugar, yet rich in calcium,” explains Cassandra.

9. Aid your appetite with avocados

“Once avoided because people thought they were fattening – we now know differently! Avocados are a great source of fat. The healthy monounsaturated fats help to satisfy hunger. They also contain an amino acid called L-carnitine that is used by the body when metabolizing fat. Avocados benefit weight loss by helping you to feel satisfied and reduce your desire to eat. Having half an avocado a day is a great tasting way to help with your weight management,” suggests Shona.

10. Wholegrain spelt pasta

“Spelt can be easier to digest than wheat, and is less likely to cause bloating. The wholegrain versions also contain more nutrients than your standard white pasta, and will be slower to digest and absorb, keeping you full for longer,” explains Cassandra.

Still salivating for a sweet treat?

Slissie anti-snacking device

“We often want to snack when our sugar levels drop, or due to our Circadian rhythms, at ‘low energy’ times of day. Most of us are surrounded now by chocolate bars at checkouts, muffins and pizza on every street corner, and few of us can avoid the temptation,” explains Psychologist, Corinne Sweet.

Corrine explains how you can satisfy your sweet tasting cravings with new Slissie, a lipstick sized anti-snacking device from £39.99.

“Slissie works in a similar way. The smell (olfactory senses) and taste (tastebuds) combine to trick the brain into thinking that the appetite has been satisfied. In fact, ‘sensory boredom’ can mean you have satisfied the craving for a particular taste and no longer need to pursue it once it is satiated.”

For more information about Slissie click on


Harley Street Specialist
  Advises on Back Pain

Bob Chatterjee advises on back pain

A recent study suggests that popular painkillers, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, are generally useless when it comes to relieving back pain – and in many cases, they can cause more harm than good, according to the review published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases Journal.

The study revealed that one in six patients treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs achieved any significant reduction in pain. Furthermore, those taking the pills were 2.5 times more likely to suffer from gastro-intestinal problems, such as stomach ulcers and bleeding.

Harley Street Spine Surgeon, Mr Bob Chatterjee, and advisor to the NHS Choices website on the treatment of back pain, says, “The biggest problem in addressing this question, is what do we mean by back pain? For example, back pain can be caused by a muscle strain, a slipped disc, wear and tear malalignment of the spine, trauma, cancer, arthritis just to name a few.

Mr Chatterjee continues, “Interestingly, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recently updated its guidelines at the end of last year, regarding the treatment of low back pain, and I think it reflects some of what this study is saying.”

We asked Mr Bob Chatterjee of Harley Street Spine his views on the study, and how back pain sufferers should view the findings from the study considering recent news.

Do you think that anti-inflammatory non-steroid drug/painkillers provide some relief when it comes to back pain?

"I think that they do, although I agree they aren't the most effective. I would agree that paracetamol alone should not be taken for back pain. The NICE guidance is that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, should be used as a first line, and paracetamol can be added to that. If this isn't strong enough or you aren't able to take NSAIDs, then a weak opioid (morphine-based) drug, such as codeine, can be taken safely with paracetamol. Co-codamol is available over the counter, but stronger varieties will require a prescription from your GP."

Do you feel that such painkillers can do more harm than good, and why?

"In some instances, that may be true, however, not for most cases. The important thing is that you take advice before starting drug treatment. Various sources of advice are available from your GP, pharmacist and the NHS Choices website, to name a few. I think the risk of doing more harm than good is usually from the side effects of the drugs, and being armed with good advice and knowing what to look out for would obviate most causes of harm.

"NSAIDs aren't suitable for everyone and those who suffer from asthma or have an ongoing history of ulcers in the stomach, can't take it. Also, remember never to take them on an empty stomach, and if you start to get symptoms of acidity in the stomach, an upset stomach, nausea, or even bleeding from the stomach, you should stop taking them and consult your GP."

Are there any other medical drugs that you feel may be of benefit to back pain?

"Other varieties of drugs can be taken after consultation with your GP. Muscle relaxants such as Diazepam can help. These drugs were originally used to treat anxiety, but in different doses, they help to relax the muscle and alleviate the pain deriving from muscle spasm in the back and buttock.

If you have pain in your leg, hip or buttocks (sciatica), your doctor may prescribe a stronger painkiller. These include:

· Some types of antidepressant, such as amitriptyline and duloxetine – these medications were originally designed to treat depression, but they have since been found to help relieve nerve pain

· Anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin and pregabalin – these medications were originally designed to treat epilepsy, but they can also be useful for treating nerve pain

"These medications aren't suitable for everyone, particularly when used in the long term, so it's important to discuss all available options with your GP. Some of these medications can also cause significant side effects in some people."

What steps can patient sufferers of back pain can do to ensure they are receiving the right treatment pathway?

"If you have very severe symptoms, such as progressive muscle weakness, altered bladder or bowel function, or numbness around the genitals or anus, these are danger signs and you should consult your GP immediately – you may require surgery.

"Although we have focussed on pharmaceutical treatment of back pain, this should be only one facet of the way we manage back pain. Prevention is better than treatment, but if you have on-going back problems, painkillers should be used really to settle your symptoms to allow you to do your stretches and exercise. I often suggest enlisting the help of a therapist.

"I regularly work with physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, just to name a few. Different treatments work for different people, so there is no ‘one answer’ for everybody. Find a good therapist of whichever denomination, perhaps through a recommendation, and they will be able to advise you on the sorts of exercises to do. We also find Pilates and some forms of yoga quite helpful.

"Generally, your back symptoms should settle within 2-4 months. If it hasn't, then I would recommend you see a Spinal Surgeon. It's important to know that, as a Spinal Surgeon, we only operate as a last resort. For 90% of the patients I see, I don't recommend an operation. I spend most of my time investigating and scanning to make sure I have the correct diagnosis and usually then liaise with their therapist or refer them to one to help focus treatment on the areas that I've identified. If this fails then, the other options are injections and surgery.

"Epidural injections consist of water, local anaesthetic and corticosteroids, which are an anti-inflammatory medicine. They may be injected into your lower back to help reduce inflammation and pain if you have severe pain due to sciatica. These injections may help relieve pain in the short term, but their effect tends to wear off over time (around 3 months). The reason to do them is not to cure your problem (because they won't), but to ease your pain much more effectively than any combination of painkillers, which then allows you to do your exercises and rehabilitation much more effectively, thereby speeding up recovery. Effectively, it creates a window of opportunity to allow your body to heal whilst your symptoms are much more manageable.

"Whether surgery is required is ultimately dependent on the precise diagnosis, and you would be advised to see a Spinal Surgeon to discuss this. However, a few principles are that, generally, surgery is a last resort unless there is impending paralysis and loss of bowel or bladder control. If speed to recovery is critical (e.g. professional sportspersons) there may be some advantage in going down the surgical route. Otherwise the only situations in which we tend to operate are where nonoperative management has failed and/or there is persisting weakness in the muscles.

"We normally expect most back conditions to improve over 2-4 months, so if by this stage things weren’t improving, we would advise to seek specialist advice for possible MRI investigation and clinical assessment."

About Harley Street Spine

Harley Street Spine is led by Mr Bob Chatterjee alongside a medical team specialising in all forms of spinal surgery from skull to pelvis and minimally invasive ‘keyhole surgery’ and spinal treatment in the elderly. Mr Bob Chatterjee has undertaken a Royal College of Surgeons accredited spinal training programme in both Orthopaedics and Neurosurgery. He is also the spinal lead at The Royal Free Hospitals NHS Trust.

For more information about Harley Street Spine visit