Back Pain and Physiotherapy

Lower Back Pain (lumbago) is particularly common, although it can be felt anywhere along the spine – from the neck down to the hips. In the case of lower back pain, statistics show that 80% of the population have suffered from some complaint in this area.

The scary statistic is that of this number, 80% of the injuries will reoccur within three years. Often the reoccurrence rates increase, eventually resulting in constant pain. In most cases, the pain isn’t caused by anything serious and will usually get better over time. Patients need to learn how to manage their symptoms to avoid the pain returning.  This is where Physiotherapy comes into its own. Whether back pain rules your life or you just get an occasional twinge, physiotherapy should be able to help you, and hopefully, help recurrences.

What is Low Back Pain?

Back pain is usually caused by mechanical factors, which affect muscles, tendons, ligaments, discs, nerve or other soft tissues and joints and generally affects the way you move. When your back hurts, it makes you move differently. Your brain then tries to protect you and stop you moving, often causing muscle spasms, which are more painful than the injury itself.

These mechanical factors may be due, for example, to altered postures, repetitive activity or incorrect lifting. Sometimes the pain will be experienced in the buttock and down your leg as far as your foot and toes. This is known as ‘sciatica’ and may also cause numbness, pins and needles or weakness in the leg.

What does Physiotherapy do?

Physiotherapy will work as a catalyst to speed up your body’s natural healing mechanisms. An exercise programme will enable you to get control of your pain. You will soon be moving better and returning to work or your chosen sport, and you will be given good advice to prevent recurrence.

The good news? Exercise and Manual Therapy help Low Back Pain ( Nice Guidelines)

The bad news? – There are SO many (too many) exercises on the Internet to choose from.

More good news? – Physiotherapists are expert in Exercise Therapy

We know that exercise helps, but which exercises should you do?

Your Physiotherapist will assess you and provide exercises, which are appropriate for your back pain and movement dysfunction. There is not one miracle, magic exercise for all, despite what the Internet might claim. We will recognise when there is potentially something seriously wrong with your back and liaise closely with the local doctors and specialists.

For those of you who have had one or more episodes of lower back pain, you must read on.

Core Stability

Core stability is said to be the answer to lower back pain, but what does that mean?

Pilates?

Yoga?

To me, core stability is all about keeping the spine still and controlled throughout movements of other joints. We should be able to lift our legs without our back and pelvis moving…. shouldn’t we?  It is about being able to control the movement of your back and pelvis whilst performing other movements. I have seen patients that have done all the ‘core’ exercises that they have been given by other physiotherapists and not improved. I slow everything and down and make them do the exercises properly. No cheating, no

I have seen patients that have done all the ‘core’ exercises that they have been given by other physiotherapists and not improved. Why?  I don’t think they were doing them properly.I slow everything and down and make them do the exercises properly. No cheating, no

I slow everything and down and make them do the exercises properly. No cheating, no tension and pushing out of the tummy, just simple (but boring) exercises that are performed to perfection. If an exercise can’t be done properly, I prefer that it isn’t done at all.

I tell patients that it isn’t that they have weak muscles, just muscles that don’t work in an optimum way at the right time.

So, Pilates and Yoga do incorporate these principles, but in a class environment, can you be sure that everyone is doing it correctly? Is that Table top position just being performed, or being performed optimally?

So when looking to retrain muscles, we must choose the correct muscles and the right way to retrain them.

Myths

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy have produced some excellent leaflets to bust some Myths about Low Back Pain.

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