WEST ACTIVE

BACK PAIN

Is Your Back Hurting? DON’T IGNORE THE PAIN!!

West Active Physiotherapists have the training to correctly assess the problem and provide safe, effective treatment. For rapid recovery you should seek early professional advice, so that you do not make your condition worse.

A physiotherapy back pain treatment is often recommended.

WHAT’S CAUSING MY BACK PAIN

This is a common question asked by most people who suffer from an episode of lower back pain. Did you know that 80% of the population will suffer a significant episode of lower back pain in their lifetime.

Postural Stress

Poor postures at work or at home or during sport put your spine under stress.

Ligaments are overstretched, muscles tire and joints and nerves are put under pressure – causing pain in your back.

Muscle Strains

Minor back muscle strains quickly improve on their own, but more severe strains that don’t settle quickly will need physiotherapy treatment to relieve pain and promote healing.

Ligament Sprains

Tiny ligaments support all the bones and disc structures in your lower back. Stretching ligaments too far or too quickly makes them tear and bleed into surrounding tissues, causing swelling and pain.

Motor vehicle and sporting accidents are common causes of ligament sprains in the lower back.

Disc Problems

Despite what you commonly hear, Lower Back Discs are anchored to the vertebrae, above and below, so they cannot ‘slip’ out of place.

They can wear down with age, but most disc problems arise from acute injury. Discs can bulge (prolapse), herniate or even rupture – this can put pressure on the nearby nerves and create symptoms such as “Sciatica”.

Sciatica

The sciatic nerves runs from the lower back, through the buttocks and down the back of your legs.

Damage to the bones or discs near it can cause irritation anywhere along this pathway will cause pain in the back and legs.

Arthritis

The joints of the spine, called the Vertebral or Facet joints can be affected by arthritis, causing degeneration and inflammation within the joint and the growth of bony spurs on the edges of the vertebrae.

These can cause pain themselves locally in your back, or affect the surrounding nerves, causing pain down your legs.

Muscle Weakness

Research has shown that weakness of the deep abdominal muscles can contribute to increased strain on the lower back.

Your West Active Physiotherapist is trained to identify these weak muscles by using Pilates or gym programs. Once you master the skill of activating these muscles, these will be transferred to your everyday activities.

HOW YOUR BACK WORKS

Your back is a complex system of interlocking components:

  • Vertebrae are the bones that make up the spinal column.
  • Discs separate the vertebrae and act as shock absorbers.
  • Facet joints between the vertebrae guide spinal movement.
  • Ligaments hold the vertebrae together.
  • Muscles are attached to the bones. They control and produce movement.
HOW DOES PHYSIOTHERAPY HELP BACK PAIN?

Almost all Australian doctors refer patients with back pain to physiotherapists in preference to other health practitioners. More importantly, for you to save time and money, people with back pain do not need a referral from a doctor to see a West Active physio.

Once the cause and type of lower back pain has been determined, the physio may treat your back pain in a variety of ways:

  • Mobilisation/manipulative physiotherapy.
  • Specific muscle re-training exercises.
  • General exercises and stretches.
  • Ergonomic advice.
  • Postural advice

Advice and early activity (recent research indicates that one of the most important treatments for low back pain is movement).

West Active has a number of highly-trained physiotherapist. These physios have additional postgraduate training (Masters Degree) in the management of musculoskeletal disorders and have more ways to help your back move well and stay well.

Research has proven that specific stabilisation exercises are an effective treatment for low back pain. Physiotherapists are the only group of professionals appropriately qualified and educated to instruct in these exercises.

If severe pain persists, other causes will need to be investigated. Your physiotherapist can order X-rays or recommend that you see one of our network of GPs or Sports Physicians to get more detailed investigations such as CT or MRI scans.

HOW DO I PREVENT LOWER BACK PAIN?

Lifting – With your feet shoulder-width apart, bend at the hips and knees. Grip the load firmly and hold it close to your body, tighten your stomach muscles and use the strong muscles of your legs to lift. Keep your back as straight as possible, and gently breathe out. Avoid twisting – turn by using your feet, not your back

Standing Posture – Think tall: chest lifted, shoulders relaxed, chin tucked in and head level. Posture should be stable, balanced and relaxed when sitting, walking or standing.

Sitting – Don’t stay seated for too long, ideally no more than 20 minutes at a time. Stand up, stretch and walk around. If necessary, the right back support will also help. Also ensure that your workstation and computer are correctly positioned.

Exercise – Stay in shape – healthy body-weight is less strain on your back. Your physiotherapist can show you how to keep your back flexible and strong with correct back and abdominal exercises.

Driving – Good support from your car seat will prevent back pain. If you need more lower back support, ask your West Active Physiotherapist about our range of supportive lumbar rolls to use in your car

Sleeping – Your mattress should be firm enough to support your natural shape.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I IGNORE THE PAIN?

If left untreated both conditions:

  • Will become more painful, gradually getting worse
  • May start referring down the leg
  • May start to cause pins & needles or numbness
  • May start affecting your hobbies and daily activities
  • Will cause more uneven stress on the lumbar discs causing wear and tear (osteoarthritis) eventually causing a disc ‘blow out’ or disc protrusion, prolapsed or bulge
  • The longer the condition is left untreated, the harder it is to fix. This often results in more visits and a higher final treatment cost
    Eventually leading to permanent damage, which may then result in spinal surgery

MY BACK HURTS! WHAT DO I DO RIGHT NOW?

If you have just injured your lower back, then the first thing to do is relax, and rest up. Try and find the most comfortable position to let any acute muscle spasm relax.

Sometimes the application of heat or ice can help to reduce this muscle spasm, along with gentle stretches and simple analgesics such as paracetamol.

Book online to relieve your pain and injury.