What is Lower Back Pain?
Lower back pain has many causes. Eighty percent (80%) of people will experience lower back pain at some stage of their life. It is one of the most common reasons for people missing work and seeing a doctor or physiotherapist.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
Most causes of low back pain are musculoskeletal in origin and known as non-specific low back pain. Most commonly, these back injuries are caused by muscular
strains, ligament sprains and joint dysfunction, particularly when pain arises suddenly during or following physical loading of the spine.
Most people can relate to traumatic injury such as bending awkwardly to lift a heavy load that tears or damages structures. However, sustained overstress injuries are probably more common but also easier to prevent.
In these cases, normally positional stress or postural fatigue creates an accumulated microtrauma that overloads your
lower back structures over an extended period of time to cause injury and back pain.
Common Causes of Lower Back Pain
Muscle injuries are the most common form of back injury. Muscle fatigue, excessive loads or poor lifting postures are the most common problems. Inefficient back muscles can lead to poor joint stabilisation and subsequent injury.
Ligaments are the strong fibrous bands that limit the amount of movement at available at each spinal level. Stretching ligaments too far or too quickly will tear them with subsequent bleeding into the surrounding tissues, causing swelling and pain. Awkward lifting, sports injuries and motor vehicle accidents are very common causes. Just as in other regions of the body, physiotherapy hastens ligament healing and relieves pain so that you can enjoy life again as soon as possible.
A bulging disc injury is a common spine injury sustained to your spine's intervertebral disc. Spinal discs are the shock-absorbing rings of fibrocartilage
and glycoprotein that separate your bony vertebral bodies, while allowing movement at each spinal level, and enough room for the major spinal nerves
to exit from the spinal canal and travel to your limbs.
You can also fracture your spine if the force involved is highly traumatic or you have low bone density (eg osteoporosis).
Poor posture when sitting, standing and lifting at work can place unnecessary stress upon your spine. Muscles fatigue, ligaments overstretch, discs stretch and this places spinal joints and nerves under pain-causing pressure.
How Can You Prevent Lower Back Pain?
While there are no guarantees, it is well known that active individuals who regularly exercise to maintain normal flexibility and muscle strength to support
their spine have the best chance of avoiding lower back pain.
Lower Back Pain Treatment
While lower back pain treatment will vary depending on your specific diagnosis, your physiotherapist will have the following aims.
PHASE I - Back Pain Relief & Protection
Managing your back pain is the main reason that you seek treatment for lower back pain. In truth, it was actually the final symptom that you developed
and should be the first symptom to improve.
PHASE II - Restoring Normal ROM, Strength
As your back pain and inflammation settles, your lower back pain may feel better but you are actually more vulnerable for re-injury during this honeymoon
period when you don’t have pain but your muscles and ligaments are weak. During this phase your physiotherapist will turn their attention to restoring
your normal lumbar spine motion, muscle length and resting tension, muscle strength and endurance, proprioception, balance and gait (walking pattern).
PHASE III - Restoring Full Function
Depending on your chosen work, sport or activities of daily living, your physiotherapist will aim to restore your back’s function to safely allow you to return to your desired activities. Everyone has different demands for their lower back that will determine what specific treatment goals you need to achieve. For some it be simply to walk around the block. Others may wish to run a marathon or be fast bowler. Your physiotherapist will tailor your rehabilitation to help you achieve your own functional goals.
PHASE IV - Preventing a Recurrence
Recurrence of low back pain can occur. The main reason it is thought to recur is due to insufficient rehabilitation. In particular, poor compliance with deep abdominal core muscle exercises. You should continue a version of these back exercises routinely a few times per week. Your physiotherapist will assist you in identifying the best exercises for you to continue indefinitely.
Other Back Pain Treatment Options
There are many treatment options that your physiotherapist will discuss with you in the treatment of your back pain. Treatment varies based upon the source of your individual symptoms.
A back brace or corset can provide excellent relief for most sciatica sufferers. Those who gain the most benefit are those who find their pain eases when
they wrap/bind a towel or sheet (folded-lengthwise) tightly around their stomach and back. If this simple test eases your pain, you should use a back
brace in the short-term. Back braces and strong deep core muscles help to avoid a recurrence in the future.
Acupuncture has been an effective source of pain relief for over 5000 years. While we do not fully understand how it works, acupuncture can assist you
pain relief. Ask your physiotherapist for advice as most of our PhysioWorks physiotherapists have acupuncture training.
Massage always feels wonderful, plus it has wonderful muscle relaxation benefits. Massage is particularly useful when muscle spasm or chronic muscle tension
is present. Regular remedial massage is also a very handy low back pain prevention strategy.
TENS machines are an electronic pain relieving device that will reduce your pain and your need for pain relieving drugs.
Poor sitting posture is a common cause of sciatica. To assist the support of your lower back many simple and effective products have been developed over
time. These include: Lumbar D-Roll, bassett frames and kinesio tape.
Your lower back needs to carry any extra kilos. Losing weight via an exercise program such as walking or swimming plus an improved diet have been show to assist lower back pain sufferers. Changing your daily habits is the secret. If you require advice, please ask your physiotherapist for their recommended exercise guidelines to burn your fuel or consult a dietitian to help point you in the right direction when it comes to a simple and healthy calorie controlled diet.
More info: Dietitians
What Back Pain Treatment Results Can You Expect?
Most sufferers of lower back pain will recover within 4 to 6 weeks. However, this time can vary greatly as it depends on both the nature of your injury
and the treatment plan that you develop with your physiotherapist.
Common Lower Back Pain & Injury Causes
FAQs about Lower Back Pain
Common Lower Back Pain Treatments
Popular Back Braces, Supports & Related Products
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