Persistent pain is without a doubt one of the great challenges faced by many people, and can adversely impact our lives in lots of different ways.
Persistent pain can be an issue in multiple areas of our body, though is particularly common in the low back region. In fact, low back pain is one of the leading causes of disability across the globe.
So what causes persistent low back pain?
Well, unfortunately the answer is not a simple one. Back pain can arise from distinct injuries i.e. sporting injuries or trauma; or can be of a more gradual onset where the pain creeps in over a period of time, and before you know it you can’t remember a time when it wasn’t there! Sometimes there can be systemic causes as well, such as arthritis as an example; or even from the physical stress of carrying too much weight. Nevertheless, despite there being many different things that contribute to low back pain, there is often a way forward with the right management and care.
As physiotherapists we often see patients whose day to day movement has changed due to the low back pain that they are experiencing. Rather like a person limping as a result of having a sore foot. When this happens a situation can arise where the altered way of moving, or as we would call it the ‘movement pattern’, can actually cause some of the pain! In a nutshell, we move differently to try and protect ourselves from the pain (which can sometimes be helpful in the early stages), but then this starts to become unhelpful as time passes by.
The good news is, physiotherapists are essentially movement experts, and are highly trained in picking up such issues. Often when this is the case, addressing the movement pattern issue can be a big help in sorting out the pain.
Persistent low back pain can also be caused by issues such as weakness, muscle imbalances, or poor general physical condition. Physiotherapists have a raft of approaches to address such issues which can include a course of manual therapy treatment or dry needling, some home based exercises, and even gym or pool based exercises.
At MyphysioSA all of these services available which our patients readily use to maximise their recovery.
Often we see patients with low back pain who also experience other symptoms too like pain, pins and needles, or weakness shooting down their legs. These symptoms are frequently associated with nerve irritation in the lower back, and it is important that they are assessed thoroughly by your physiotherapist. Depending on the nature of the symptoms it may be appropriate to get some imaging done such as an MRI as an example, and/or seek a specialist opinion on the situation.
Thankfully, at MyphyioSA we work in close collaboration with a range of specialist doctors including pain, spinal, and rehabilitation physicians. As such, we can ensure that where needed our patients can access this care.
Anecdotally the longer back pain is present, the harder it can be to sort out. So above and beyond all else, it is crucial to get a thorough and timely assessment from which a course of action can be derived.
Written by Partner Physiotherapist, David Wilson, Mount Barker myPhysioSA.