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Dealing with Lower Back Pain: A Guide to Relief and Prevention.




Today, let's talk about that oh-so-annoying, often debilitating companion we call lower back pain. Whether you're a seasoned sufferer or just experiencing your first twinge, you're not alone. Let's dive into what causes it, how to treat it, and most importantly, how to keep it from coming back to haunt you.



What's the Deal with Lower Back Pain?


So, what's causing all that commotion in your lower back? Well, there's a myriad of culprits. It could be anything from poor posture and muscle strain to more serious conditions like herniated discs or sciatica. Sometimes it's hard to pinpoint the exact cause, but one thing's for sure: it's a pain in the, well, you know where.



Common Conditions


Let's break down some of the common conditions that can lead to lower back pain:


· Muscle Strain: This is often the result of lifting heavy objects improperly or sudden movements that strain the muscles in your back. Heavy lifting and awkward postures significantly increase the risk of developing lower back pain.


· Herniated Disc: When one of the discs between your vertebrae ruptures or bulges, it can irritate nearby nerves and cause pain. Herniated discs are a common cause of lower back pain, particularly in individuals between the ages of 30 and 50.


· Sciatica: This occurs when the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back down through your legs, becomes irritated or compressed, leading to pain, numbness, and tingling. Sciatica affects approximately 40% of the population at some point in their lives [1].


· Degenerative Disc Disease: Over time, the discs in your spine can wear down, leading to pain and stiffness. Degenerative disc disease is a common age-related condition that contributes to lower back pain, especially in older adults [2].


· Spinal Stenosis: This is a narrowing of the spinal canal, which can put pressure on the nerves in your lower back and cause pain. Spinal stenosis is a leading cause of lower back pain in older adults, particularly those over the age of 60 [3].



Physio Treatment and Assessment


When it comes to treating lower back pain, physiotherapy can be a game-changer. Your physiotherapist will conduct a thorough assessment to determine the root cause of your pain. We'll take into account your medical history, perform physical examinations, and maybe even order imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans to get the full picture.

Once we've pinpointed the problem, we'll work with you to develop a personalised treatment plan. This will include but is not limited to:


· Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques like massage and manipulation to relieve muscle tension and improve mobility. Manual therapy techniques such as spinal manipulation and mobilisation are effective for reducing pain and improving function in individuals with lower back pain [4].


· Exercise Prescription: Specific exercises to strengthen the muscles in your back, improve flexibility, and correct imbalances in your posture. Structured exercise program led to significant improvements in pain and function for individuals with chronic lower back pain [5].


· Modalities: Treatments like heat, ice, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation to reduce pain and inflammation. Modalities such as heat, and ultrasound can provide short-term pain relief for individuals with acute or chronic lower back pain.


· Education: Learning proper body mechanics, ergonomic tips, and lifestyle modifications to prevent future episodes of back pain. Education and self-management strategies are important components of physiotherapy interventions for preventing recurrent episodes of lower back pain [6].



Preventative Measures


Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are some tips to keep your lower back happy and healthy:


· Maintain Good Posture: Whether you're sitting, standing, or lifting, proper posture is key to preventing back pain. Remember to keep your spine aligned and avoid slouching or hunching over for prolonged periods. Do also remember to regularly adapt your sitting position!


· Stay Active: Regular exercise, especially activities that strengthen your core muscles, can help support your spine and reduce the risk of injury.


· Lift Safely: When lifting heavy objects, bend your knees and keep your back straight. Don't twist your body while lifting, and use your legs to do the heavy lifting, not your back.


· Take Breaks: If you have a desk job or spend long hours sitting, make sure to take regular breaks to stretch and move around.



Wrapping Up


So, there you have it: the lowdown on lower back pain. Remember, you don't have to suffer in silence. If you're dealing with persistent or severe pain, don't hesitate to seek help from our expert Physiotherapists here at Crouch Physio. With the right treatment and preventative measures, you can banish that back pain and get back to living your best life. Stay strong, stay active, and take care of your back!


Our Barnet, Cockfosters & Enfield Physio's can assist with lower back related pain. Have confidence that our specialist Physiotherapist will closely assess, diagnose & treat you in the correct & evidence-based way. You can book an appointment here.



Blog By: Emre Oz (Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist at Crouch Physio).




References:


1. Konstantinou, K. and Dunn, K.M., 2008. Sciatica: review of epidemiological studies and prevalence estimates. Spine, 33(22), pp.2464-2472.


2. Adams, M.A. and Roughley, P.J., 2006. What is intervertebral disc degeneration, and what causes it?. Spine, 31(18), pp.2151-2161.


3. Kalichman, L., Cole, R., Kim, D.H., Li, L., Suri, P., Guermazi, A. and Hunter, D.J., 2009. Spinal stenosis prevalence and association with symptoms: the Framingham Study. The spine journal, 9(7), pp.545-550.


4. Rubinstein, S.M., De Zoete, A., Van Middelkoop, M., Assendelft, W.J., De Boer, M.R. and Van Tulder, M.W., 2019. Benefits and harms of spinal manipulative therapy for the treatment of chronic low back pain: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. bmj, 364.


5. Searle, A., Spink, M., Ho, A. and Chuter, V., 2015. Exercise interventions for the treatment of chronic low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Clinical rehabilitation, 29(12), pp.1155-1167.


6. Traeger, A.C., Huebscher, M., Henschke, N., Moseley, G.L., Lee, H. and McAuley, J.H., 2015. Effect of primary care–based education on reassurance in patients with acute low back pain: systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA internal medicine, 175(5), pp.733-74.

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