Low back pain is a commonly diagnosed condition in the Western world with 60-80% of people likely to experience a problem in their lifetime. Fortunately, the majority of symptoms will recover and heal within 2-3 months. However, recurrence rates are still common, and therefore it is extremely important to get the right advice and treatment.
Back pain can arise for a number of different reasons although up to 85% is diagnosed as non-specific. Common factors that might result in symptoms range from a simple soft tissue strain, poor posture, to lack of exercise, stress and even not enough sleep.
It may not always be possible to tell which specific structure has been injured even with investigation, but the most important thing is that many structures will recover in a similar manner! The body has an amazing ability to heal and the therapist will be able to guide you to help optimise recovery.
Acute or sub-acute symptoms are those experienced by patients for six weeks or less, to more chronic in duration which may be three months or more.
Both acute and chronic symptoms of mechanical low back pain should respond well with the right advice, treatment and exercise. So whether you’ve been experiencing symptoms for only couple of days or over a long period, it would be wise to seek advice.
We are ultimately here to care for you and to help you get better. One of our experienced physiotherapists will be there to guide you through your therapy with the aim of getting you back to full fitness as quickly as possible.
Most initial sessions will involve:
- Taking a detailed history of the problem
- Physical examination of your back
- Explanation to help you to understand your symptoms and why you may be experiencing your pain
- Treatment and plan for recovery
As well as giving specific advice, your therapist has an array of treatment techniques which they may use to assist you including:
- Manual therapy techniques such as massage, mobilisations and stretches
- Postural, lifestyle and ergonomic advice
- Acupuncture or electrotherapy
Your therapist has an array of treatment techniques at his disposal to help assist you along that road to recovery. The aim is to help reduce any stiffness or rigidity and to improve the fluidity in how you move – getting you back doing the stuff that you want to do!
However the therapist at some stage will definitely use the most powerful weapon at his disposal which is…. Exercise! A sedentary office working life can cause a whole host of postural related ailments but through exercise your symptoms should hopefully start to resolve. In contrast someone who is very active could develop sports related low back pain. Therefore it is essential that any exercises are tailored to the individual’s needs and are appropriate for the stage of healing or recovery. They may involve just simple movement exercises or stretches to a full-on conditioning program for the trunk and back.
Throughout this process you will hopefully learn about your body and how to manage it, to know what postures and exercises are most comfortable and ultimately how to help prevent further problems occurring.
It is only in the very minor number of cases further investigation is necessary, as in the vast majority of patients further investigation is unwarranted. Studies have shown that most things identified on an MRI are completely unrelated to back pain and are commonly occurring in the pain free population.
Some individuals may benefit from other forms of treatment or management to help ensure a good recovery. With today’s busy lifestyles sometimes even just the pace of life will result in considerable stresses on the body and mind.
There are a variety of methods that can be used to help counter this very modern problem. This may involve joining a meditation, Pilates or Yoga class to help you break away from the demands of the working day. Sometimes regular soft tissue massages help to relieve tension that has built up through a tough working week. Our physiotherapists can help discuss various options with you and if the need arises can refer you onto other specialised therapists.
Link: Anatomy of the Spine