When you look at statistics, the numbers are staggering; according to a study conducted in 2017, 7.5% of the global population suffered from low back pain. That is approximately 577M people across the world, making it one of the most common causes of physical disability. Furthermore, experts predict that almost every individual in the world will experience lower back pain at some point in their life. With that in mind, whether this is currently a problem for you or someone you are caring for, it is important to understand how to address low back pain to ensure that proper treatment is sought after sooner rather than later.
As lifestyles have evolved over generations, there are many people who are paying more attention to their health and listening to their bodies; in doing so, they seek the best and safest treatment for lower back pain. On the other hand, some individuals who are consumed by their work schedule and everyday routine, often look for ‘quick fixes’, and end up resorting to over the counter painkillers. For more reasons than one, this is one of least recommended ways to deal with lower back pain. Apart from the dangers of becoming addicted or dependent on painkillers (prescribed or otherwise), it is not an ideal long term solution. With that said, depending on a patient’s diagnosis and/or their tolerance to pain, a course of painkillers may be advised by a doctor.
Alternatively, the preferred way to manage low back pain comes in the form of physiotherapy. Not only does it provide relief from chronic pain, but following a customised program under the guidance of a trained physiotherapist can help prevent lower back pain by strengthening back muscles and maintaining flexibility.
Before we get into the role of physiotherapy in managing lower back pain, let’s learn about what can cause this nagging ache in the lumbar region.
Common Causes of Lower Back Pain
Oftentimes, it is not possible to self-determine the cause of pain in your lower back. If you have recently been in an accident, suffered an injury, or undergone surgery, it may be easier to understand the symptoms you are experiencing which includes back pain. Most cases, however, require a thorough evaluation by a doctor to pinpoint the underlying cause of the pain. This often involves a physical examination, imaging tests, and/or scans
Common conditions that lead to lower back pain include:
- Straining or tearing muscles or ligaments
- Herniated or slipped discs
It should also be noted that there are many factors that put individuals at risk of developing lower back pain including:
- Obesity or being overweight
- Sudden or excess physical activity
- Lifting heavy weights or improper form when lifting
Even the wrong sleeping position can lead to back pain if your body and muscles are not trained and strengthened to withstand a little stress caused to the lumbar region. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how physiotherapists are helping patients gain relief and better their overall health and body through customised and guided exercise programs.
Physiotherapy and Low Back Pain
Today, physiotherapy plays a vital role in rehabilitation and training when injured, or otherwise, and is one of the most sought after treatments for recurring low back pain. It often addresses the problem by following a treatment program that uses other therapies and treatments including chiropractic, needling, heat and cold, massage, and traction.
How Physiotherapists Address Lower Back Pain
There are many different approaches a physical therapist can take to treat patients with low back pain. How they do it depends on various factors that ensure only the safest and suitable approach is taken for long term relief.
Here are some important aspects of physiotherapy in the treatment of lower back pain:
- If suitable, your physiotherapist will advise more movement and activity in your day-to-day life. The importance of mobility and flexibility (within capacity) in the lower back is used as an early treatment to prevent worsening of the symptom.
- Physical therapists use targeted mobilisation or manipulative techniques that work on the affected area, thereby increasing blood circulation, reducing stiffness, and increasing mobility.
- For weak back muscles, strengthening and stabilisation is important. This can be achieved through specific exercises guided by your therapist.
- As per the patient’s diagnosis and the severity of pain experienced, a customised program of beginner-level exercises and stretches will be created to provide relief. These are performed under the guidance of the specialist until or unless they (the patients) are advised to continue the program at home or by themselves.
- In cases where physical activity is not advised for a patient due to injury, severe pain, etc, passive physical therapy is the preferred alternative. This form of physiotherapy uses therapies such as ultrasound, heat/ice compress, iontophoresis, and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) unit to relieve back pain.
- Physiotherapists aim to provide long term results by treatment and advice. Along with the therapies used to alleviate lower back pain, they will share valuable information and advice on how to sustain a healthier lifestyle that is free from aches and pain. These include ergonomic tips, how to correct poor posture, daily exercise routines, favourable sleeping positions that will not cause or worsen lower back pain, and so on.
Although there are millions of people who live with lower back pain, one needn’t resort to ‘treatments’ that provide short term relief. With the assured guidance of a trained and experienced physiotherapist, managing low back pain and alleviating the symptom of an underlying cause provides sustainable benefits. It is proven to be a safe, non-invasive, and extremely effective way to successfully treat pain in the lumbar region.
For a consultation and thorough evaluation by one of our renowned physical therapists, contact MSK Therapy today.