28 October 2020
Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain (LBP) is one of the main complaints we see in clinic.
Causes of lower back pain
There are plenty of non-serious causes of LBP, and in most cases there is more than one tissue affected.
Soft tissue refers to muscles and ligaments. Muscles can be strained and ligaments sprained by innocuous movements- just like cricking your neck.
Muscles also tighten up in response to other problems- most people with LBP will have some degree of muscle tightness, and we can address it all.
The small joints either side of each bone can be irritated and become stiff. This can be difficult to resolve on your own, especially when muscles tighten up to protect it and only make them more restricted.
Those joints can also be affected by osteoarthritis. The good news is that improving movement will improve the health of the cartilage. Treatment can help you get to a more comfortable level, then exercises and more intermittent sessions can keep it under control.
Discs cushion the bones of the spine, working as shock absorbers and allowing movement. If the tough outer layer is injured this can be uncomfortable or cause some local inflammation. Sometimes the softer inner layer pushes against a weakened part of the outside and causes a bulge. Many people have disc bulges with no symptoms, which is why routine imaging is not recommended.
Sometimes the disc will push against a nerve- depending on the nerve this can cause something like sciatica.
Risk factors for lower back pain
Some factors that make back pain more likely are within your control. These include:
- Being overweight
- Having a very active lifestyle, or suddenly increasing activity levels
- Being very sedentary
All of these are affected by a comfortable amount of exercise, so it's not surprising that exercise is one of the best things that can be done for back pain.
There are other risk factors that are out of your control, such as having a previous history of back pain or a genetic predisposition. If these apply to you, advice about staying active and a healthy weight is even more important.
All of the above causes can be aided by osteopathy. We have a range of techniques to suit everyone, whether you prefer more gentle work or the satisfaction of a clicking joint.
Osteopaths can also give you advice to continue your improvement between treatments. There are a lot of outdated beliefs about back pain out there, such as the idea of bed rest. We now know that reasonable movement is the best thing for almost all pain. Exercises and other advice can be expected as part of your treatment plan.
If your back pain is chronic, management will be slightly different. At this point, there will be a lot of neurological involvement, so treatment needs to focus on calming down the nerves too. But just because it's gone on for so long already doesn't mean it can never improve.
If you suffer from lower back pain, make an appointment today and start getting on top of it.