Most people will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Your physiotherapist will thoroughly assess you to discern the cause of the pain such that we can find the most effective form of treatment. For the majority of people back pain comes on acutely, but, it improves and resolves within 3-6 weeks with appropriate management. However, recurrence of back pain is common and for some individuals, this pain can become chronic (lasting longer than 3 months). The right advice in the first instance can help prevent this and prevent on-going pain and disability.
Common causes of back pain include, but are not limited to the following factors:
- Heavy and/or repetitive lifting
- Sudden, awkward movements
- Poor/weak posture
- Being sedentary and/or overweight
- Stress resulting in muscle tension
There are also health conditions that are associated with back pain, for example:
- Spinal stenosis
- Disc herniations
A physiotherapy assessment for back pain includes taking a subjective history including questions about symptom behaviour, impact on activities of daily living, and prior levels of function. An objective assessment then follows, where we may examine posture, range of movement through the spine, strength, and muscle flexibility. Our goal with a treatment plan is to provide symptom relief, restore mobility, and prevent re-injury.
Treatments may involve:
- Soft tissue release, trigger point therapy, and dry needling/acupuncture to reduce muscular spasm and inflammation, and relieve pain.
- Spinal mobilisations to improve mobility of spinal joints.
- Taping the back for support and stability as you recover.
Training in posture, movement mechanics, and strengthening. Perhaps considered to be one of the most important parts of your journey to recovery; a graded exercise programme will ensure proper strengthening and postural awareness to prevent the likelihood of re-injury.
Sciatica is the broad term used to describe pain resulting from irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, a large nerve that originates from our lower back and branches of which go right down to our toes. Therefore, the pain from this can be felt anywhere from our lower back, to our hip/buttock, right down the back of our leg into the foot. It typically effects one leg at a time and may be associated with pins and needles, numbness and/or weakness. Often it doesn’t follow a particular event or incident, rather gradually worsens with time.
There are a range of causes of sciatica from narrowing of the spinal canal to bone spurs, disc herniations or tight muscles in the buttock. Physiotherapy can help find ways to ease the symptoms through positions of comfort, stretches and manual therapy. Exercises to help strengthen the surrounding muscles will help prevent the onset of pain and can lead to lasting improvements.
You should seek immediate medical attention if these symptoms are associated with problems controlling your bladder or bowel.