Lower back pain is such a debilitating issue for patients and debated subject in the medical and physical therapy world. Lower back pain is the number one musculoskeletal problem that we see in the clinic and there are several factors that can cause lower back pain.
So…why is my back sore? How can I “fix” my lower back pain? Do I visit my GP? Who can treat lower back pain?
Some of the regular questions that we receive and we are going to try and address some of these points.
I guess the first issue to address is what to do if you experience lower back pain. We recognise that patients are not medically trained and the information out there can be confusing when looking for advice at some online sources. The first port of call that we suggest is to cease the activity that has made the lower back sore in the first place, ie. Heavy lifting in the gym, overload in the garden, DIY around the house. The second thing that we suggest is to avoid any excessive lower back movements, as pushing in to a range that will bring pain on could worsen your symptoms. The last thing we suggest is to seek professional advice and try to alleviate the symptoms as quickly as possible. Your GP will tend to refer on to physiotherapy and prescribe some painkiller and/ or anti-inflammatory medication. By seeing a professional physiotherapist, we can start to treat the symptoms and alleviate those horrible symptoms of lower back pain. The stats are in our favour by seeking physiotherapy treatment – 80% of lower back pain will alleviate with physiotherapy intervention in 6 weeks.
So…what does a physiotherapist actually do for lower back pain? A lot of people experiencing lower back pain have never seen a physio before so we’ll explain what we do. Firstly, we take a detailed history of each individual patient – not only is the paperwork a legal requirement it’s also a physio’s game of Cluedo to investigate how this has happened? how severe the symptoms are? What’s aggravating the symptoms? Has this happened before? From the information we receive we then do a hands-on physical assessment. The written history and the physical assessment allow us formulate our treatment plan. Each treatment plan is specific to each patient’s symptoms and can include: manual therapy (mobilisations and manipulations), deep tissue/ sports massage techniques, individualised lower back exercise prescription, postural correction, electrotherapy, taping techniques, advice and education. Our plan is to help within the allocated time we have each session but to give the patient the relevant tools in order to allow self-management. So be prepared for some homework in order to aid recovery.