December 5, 2019

How Do I Fix Lower Back Pain?

As an osteopath lower back pain is something I treat very frequently, it is actually the most common reason why people see an osteopath. (Orrock, 2009) Lower back is an incredibly common problem with 8 in 10 people experiencing it at some point in their lifetime. It is so common to have lower back pain for more than 3 months that it is now considered an epidemic and also makes up half of lower back pain patients. 95% of lower back pain is considered to be non-specific with not one specific cause contributing to the pain.

Causes of lower back pain

As mentioned above lower back pain is very often multi-factorial with a few different elements contributing to why you have pain. For example, if your joint is inflamed is it very likely your muscles will be tense and tight as it tries to protect the joint.

Osteopath working on a patient

who is most likely to get it?

  • Four times as likely in people over the age of 50 compared to people that are between 18-30
  • Women especially pregnant women
  • People with osteoporosis
  • Smoking and obesity
  • Intensive computer/desk-based work.

Factors that lead to back pain

  1. Muscle + Ligaments
  2. Joint Inflammation
  3. Disc
  4. Osteoarthritis
  5. Bone pathologies (osteoporosis)
  6. Nerve root compression
  7. Systemic

People often underestimate their muscles and ligaments when it comes to the cause of their pain, they can be incredibly painful. Lower back pain in general is often caused from a combination of bending and twisting. The lower back is built for weight bearing and primarily bending forwards and backwards so if you're bending as well, it can often aggravate the muscles and joints.

Lower back pain from a disc is also relatively common however the amount of pain, symptoms and impact on your daily life can vary dramatically. The symptoms of a disc problem include nerve compression, which causes sharp, shooting and radiating pain usually occurring on the buttock and/or down your leg, you can also get symptoms such as numbness, weakness, tingling or burning pain. Often the leg symptoms can be more painful than the pain in your actual lower back.

 

Discs and Jammy doughnuts:

One way to explain disc pain in the lower back is by comparing it to a jam doughnut.

Your disc is like a sugar-covered jammy doughnut that sits between the bones in your spine. You start off with the sugar coming off the top easily and if you're not going to eat it straight away it's no big deal. When there is wear and tear and the doughnut gets a bit squashed, nothing major, the jam is still inside but its just more worn. If the jam comes out this is when you get your herniated discs, again the degree of damage depends on the amount of jam that comes out the joint - the more jam the more serious the damage.

Osteopath fixing issues with a patient

how do i fix lower back pain?

The guideline for lower back pain both for new and long-standing problems is for non-invasive treatment with exercise, manual therapy including spinal manipulation and dry needling.

At our clinic, manual therapy from an osteopath and physio is considered a safe and effective form of treatment, and helps in the prevention of lower back pain. Furthermore, the reassurance, advice and understanding of your pain from your practitioner is also proven to reduce recovery times (Oliveria et al 2018).

Exercise programs are recommended as a preventive and a treatment method to strengthen, improve function, quality of life and reduce pain levels (Andersen et al 2012). These are often supported by hand on treatments from manual therapist.

Manual therapy for lower back pain normally uses a combination of soft tissue massage, joint articulation, manipulation including high velocity thrusts and advice including exercises. Each appointment and treatment will individualised for each patient to address their own personal situation and circumstances. Osteopaths will often use osteopathic spinal manipulation - a technique where you may hear a click, this has been proven to be significant in reducing lower back pain. Osteopathy recommended in the NICE and European guidelines for treating both acute and long term lower back pain.

References:

1: Oliveira CB, Maher CG, Pinto RZ, Traeger AC, Lin CC, Chenot JF, van Tulder M,

Koes BW. Clinical practice guidelines for the management of non-specific low back

pain in primary care: an updated overview. Eur Spine J. 2018

Nov;27(11):2791-2803. doi: 10.1007/s00586-018-5673-2. Epub 2018 Jul 3. Review.

PubMed PMID: 29971708.

https://www.clinicaladvisor.com/home/topics/pain-information-center/current-guidelines-for-management-of-low-back-pain/2/

https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/2603228/noninvasive-treatments-acute-subacute-chronic-low-back-pain-clinical-practice

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ZoeZoe has always been active in sports as a child, and when she had minor injuries she was interested to find out how one part of the musculoskeletal system could have an impact on another. With that she decided to study Osteopathy and with its core principle that the body works together to overcome injury.

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