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Back Pain and Physiotherapy

One day, just like any other, you go to do a routine task. You’re making the bed or cleaning the bottom cupboard of the shelves or picking up your kid/niece/nephew and BAM. You feel something grab and spasm up in your back. Sometimes the pain comes instantly, sometimes it comes the next day, when you just can’t get out of bed. But it comes and there’s a lot of pain. It’s there day after day and you just don’t know what to do. This may have happened before, but this time seems worse.

Now every time you go to bend over or pick something up it either grabs or worse. You’re scared and apprehensive of moving. You avoid doing the things you normally do to not stir it up. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Back pain can be an incredibly scary thing. Often times quite debilitating. But most of the time it’s quite benign and easy to navigate the road to recovery with the help of a trained professional guiding you.

As physio’s we see people like yourself with back pain all the time. This includes everything from headaches, neck pain, rib pain, low back pain and sciatica. So we know how negatively it can affect your life. We know how long it’ll take to get better. But most importantly we know how to get you back on track to living your best life.

From us at Physio Group South West, here’s a simple guide with what you need to know about back pain.

Stats:

Stats:

  • In 2017-18, 1 in 6 Aussies (16%) had back problems (that’s 4 million people)
  • Nearly 2 in 5 (38%) of Aussies with back problems said that pain “moderately” interfered with their daily activities
  • An estimated 70-90% of people will experience back problems within their life

As you can see, it’s quite common.

Types of back pain:

  1. Nerve root compromise (disc bulge): Making up about 5% of all low back pain and 5% of neck pain. It is the classic “slipped disc” with associated sciatic pain. They take anywhere from 3-18 months to fully heal
    1. Excess pressure causes the disc between your spine bones to bulge and put pressure on the nerves in the spinal cord.
    2. This pressure causes pain and some of the following symptoms; pins and needles, numbness, a warm/burning sensation, a searing sensation going down your leg, weakness in the legs.
    3. The location of the bulge will determine which muscles are affected or where your symptoms may be.
    4. Over time the disc bulge will regress to normal relieving pressure on the nerves
    5. Our job as physios is to help get the pain to settle down, get you moving and back to normal as soon as possible. Then to get your back strong and healthy to prevent any future injuries.
Blausen.com staff (2014). “Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014“. WikiJournal of edicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010ISSN 2002-4436. – Own work
  1. Musculoskeletal pain. This is the most common pain making up about 90-95% of all cases.
    1. The following image shows the complexity and abundance of muscles and ligaments in the area as there’s many different muscles of different lengths that all overlap each other like a twine rope.
    2. This type of pain is usually soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments). It can be rather painful and restrictive, but is quite benign with very little risk of long term damage or disability.
    3. Usually a dull ache. Often times it is positionally dependant. It’s usually accompanied with a sharp grabbing/pinching pain and restriction of movement. Walking and light activity is really good for it and helps make it feel better.
    4. As physios we can once again help settle pain down, relieve muscle tension and get you moving again. We help speed up the recovery and return you to your regular activities in 2-6 weeks time.
  1. Serious pathology: As the name states these are serious and make up around 1% of cases. These include: cancer, tumours, infections, fractures, cauda equina and inflammatory conditions. These are quite rare and uncommon. If you experience some of the following symptoms then go to your GP as soon as you can; pain that worsens at night, recent unexplained weight loss, numbness or tingling in the genital area, shooting pain down both legs, disturbances in bladder/bowel function.

What to do when you have back pain:

See a trained professional.

If you’re in a lot of pain (8-10/10) then go to your GP for some pain relief. Then come and see us.

We have a wide assortment of hands on techniques to help you feel better, loosen you up and get you moving a bit better.

Then we can put together a plan, in order to get you back to doing the things that you love, without any fear of pain or hurting yourself.

But for general advice, JUST MOOOOOVE!

Movement is the best thing for you!

It gets blood going to the areas, helps warms you up and keep you limber. Sitting still causes everything to stiffen up and get cold. So move as frequently and as much as you comfortably. It should feel good and help ease things off.

Prevention:

This is the most important step. Because once you’ve hurt your back, you’re more likely to do it again. Rather than letting it be a recurring theme to your life. It’s best to take steps to ensure it gets under control and doesn’t occur again. Because as we all know, when it comes to ageing, when one thing starts breaking down, as do others.

The most important thing:

EXERCISE!!!! But not just any exercise, RESISTANCE TRAINING specifically.

In order to ensure that you don’t hurt yourself, you need to be strong enough. It’s not about how you lift something. It’s about how much your body can lift before something gives.

Looking at the two pictures below, who do you think is more likely to hurt themselves trying to lift a couch or a fridge?

Why?

By Videoplasty.com, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67048976
Description English: an exercise of hip and thigh. Date 6 November 2010 Source
http://everkinetic.com/ Author Everkinetic

If you said picture 1 because he has less muscle and wouldn’t be as strong, then you are absolutely correct!!! As long as you work your muscles appropriately and maintain strength, then they will be strong enough!

USE IT OR LOSE IT

While exercise such as; walking, cycling, swimming, gardening and house work can be quite physically demanding. They’re not specifically strengthening your back.

Now you might be wondering, well how do I do that? How often do I do that and where do I that?

Here at PGSW we’re trained and specialise in getting you moving and creating a program to help you prevent injuries.

Come see us for an appointment so we can either create a customised exercise program for you, or get you into one of our exercise classes, which are supervised by trained physiotherapists.

Generally speaking you need the following:

Frequency: 2-3x/week

Intensity: 2-4 sets of 8-15 repetitions depending on age

Exercise: Any movement with added resistance that stresses the low back (squats, deadlifts, bent over rows)

  1. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/back-problems/contents/what-are-back-problems

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