Lower back pain is very common and can range from mild discomfort to debilitating pain. While lower back pain often dissipates on its own, treatment is the best way to make sure it won't return in the future. Regardless of the severity of your back pain, our physiotherapist team at Manotick PhysioWorks is here to explain how we can help you to recover from and prevent lower back pain now and in the future.
What is lower back pain?
Lower back pain is an incredibly common source of discomfort in people of all ages and genders. It can be caused by a wide range of conditions and behaviors, from improper form when carrying something heavy to sitting for extended periods of time, poor physical health and chronic conditions.
When identifying lower back pain as an issue and speaking to a physician about it, it's quite common to be prescribed a month-long course of physiotherapy in order to strengthen your body and alleviate pain. If physiotherapy isn't successful, other treatment options like surgery may need to be considered.
Lower back pain comes in two varieties, localized and radiating pain. Localized pain is felt only in your lower back and in your buttocks, radiating pain can be felt down one or both of your legs and in your feet as well. Radiating pain can also manifest itself as a numbness in either leg or a tingling sensation. If you experience any of these symptoms, it might be worth looking up a physiotherapy center and inquiring about physical therapy treatments for your condition.
Risk Factors for Low Back Pain
Low back pain may be caused by any number of factors. Poor posture while sitting at home, work or in the car is a very common example.
Another common cause of lower back pain is tight hamstrings. When hamstrings cannot stretch enough for a forward bend, the back will take the ’stretch/load’. After a while, with repetition, this can result in a strained back. Weak core muscles are a significant risk factor too, and often require deep abdominal and spinal stabilization (Transversus Abdominis) to resolve the issue.
In other cases, if the Thoracic (rib cage spine) is not mobile enough for rotation and sports/movements, the low back will try to compensate. The problem in these cases is that the low back joints only have 1 - 3 degrees of movement each, and only 5 segments (5 - 15 degrees of rotation), so this compensation can very easily lead to joint damage and injury.
It's also very important to remember that our legs can often be directly related to or caused by problems with the back, even if you aren't actually feeling any pain in your back.
The core of it is that what hurts is NOT always where the injury is located and, conversely, just because you aren't experiencing back pain it doesn't mean there isn't an issue in your back that must be resolved to alleviate pain elsewhere.
Should I Wait For My Pain To Go Away On Its Own?
Absolutely not! While lower back pain will often subside eventually, untreated pain can flare up again later. Your pain may even become chronic if left for long enough, as whatever the cause of your pain is, continues to impact your body. The earlier you are able to get treatment for your pain, the better.
Physiotherapy designed for your lower back helps to strengthen your body and prevent you from being injured or experiencing pain all over again. This way, it not only dispells your discomfort, bur ensures that you have the exercises and tools required in order to prevent it in the future.
Kinds of Physical Therapy Treatments for Lower Back Pain
There are two general categories of physiotherapy which can be used to treat lower back pain: passive and active physical therapies.
Passive physical therapies involve things being done to you as a patient, including cold or heat packs applied to painful areas or electrical stimulation of muscles in the area. Active physical therapies focus on specific stretches and exercises. In most lower back treatment plans, active physicals therapies take center stage.
Your physiotherapy treatment will be targeted at the source of your pain and your unique needs. However, most physiotherapists' plans for lower back pain will include movement exercises and m,annual therapy in conjunction with one another.
Manual therapy involves your physiotherapist using hands-on techniques to loosen stiff joints and muscles in and around your spine. Movement exercises help to restore motion, flexibility and strength in your body, alleviating pain the process. These exercises will be shown and taught to you by your physiotherapist and then prescribed for you to do on your own as well.
Physiotherapy for Lower Back Pain And Surgery
While physiotherapy can often completely alleviate and prevent back pain in the future, the issue is sometimes much more difficult to repair. Particularly severe instances of chronic back pain or pain that is caused by something that can't be treated by physiotherapy, will require surgical intervention in order to be truly repaired and alleviated.
That being said, there is substantial evidence indicating that physiotherapy both before and after surgery of any kind improves its efficacy and quickens your recovery time. Your body will heal better if it is active and healthy. Unless there are reasons why you would not be able to do so, usually your doctor will prescribe your a treatment of physiotherapy for your lower back pain before considering surgical intervention.
You should visit your physician when you start experiencing lower back pain and speak with them before pursuing physical therapy so that they have a chance to assess you for causes like tumors or fractures. Causes like these may not require, or may even inhibit the effectiveness of physiotherapeutic treatments.