Back pain is one of the most disabling health conditions in Australia and the world generally, affecting approximately 80% of the population at some point in their lives. It is a major cause of pain and disability and can affect our work and daily lives greatly. Lower back pain can be acute (a new injury or episode) or chronic (an old injury or constant pain). Either way, it is vital to have your back assessed and to gain an understanding as to why your back pain occurs and how you can help yourself with the help of your physiotherapist.
Common causes include:
- weakened deep core spinal muscles (e.g. Multifidus) and overactive superficial muscles (e.g. QL muscle, Erector spinae, glutes)
- joint and muscle strain or imbalance
- disc problems (bulges, prolapses, ruptures, thinning)
- poor postural habits
- excessive repetitive strain on the
- lower back
- referred pain from abdomen issue (medical problems)
Symptoms can include:
- general widespread aching or sharp pinpoint pain in the lower back
- pain referring into the buttocks or down the front or back of the leg
- stiffness or reduced movement in the lower back and pelvis
- postural shift or inability to maintain good posture
- Numbness or ’pins and needles’ in the back or lower limbs
- pain radiating to the abdomen
- tenderness and tightness over the lower back and pelvis
To reduce pain, improve joint mobility and muscle flexibility, treatment will normally include manual therapy in the form of joint mobilisation, soft tissue massage, manipulation and neural mobilisation. An exercise program is given to strengthen the deep spinal muscles in a low impact way and mobilising exercises as required. More advanced forms of strengthening and stretching will be prescribed later to achieve an excellent return to function. There is a focus on preventing recurrence and education to best understand your lower back.
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