Physiotherapy for Back Pain
Back pain affects primarily the lower back and the good news is, that in most cases, the cause of pain is not serious and can be resolved in a few days or weeks. However, some symptoms can be more serious requiring a full assessment and diagnosis by an experienced healthcare professional.
The lower part of your spine is joined to the sacrum which is part of your pelvis. The curves, shapes and various sizes of the vertebrae (along with the discs found in between them), help to evenly distribute the weight of your body on the spine and creating the flexibility necessary to bend or rotate your back.
A complex group of muscles are attached to the spine which allows you to move your back. There are also postural muscles which help to maintain the shape and curves of your spine, keeping them in the correct position, as well as help to keep you upright.The spinal cord passes through the center of each vertebra. The cord ends in your lower back where it becomes a series of strands called the “cauda equina” (horses tail). Either side of each vertebra are spinal nerve exits from the spinal cord which pass sensory and motor signals between your brain and a certain part of your body which the nerve innervates.
What Causes Back Pain?
There are more complex causes of back pain like disc prolapse, ankylosing spondylitis, osteoporosis, arthritis or fracture which require a more detailed assessment.
Symptoms of Lower Back Pain
Occasionally symptoms may be related to conditions other than poor posture, for example, prolapsed disc, fracture, facet joint impingement or nerve root compression. You may experience any of the following symptoms:
- Pins and needles or numbness in the buttocks, lower limbs or feet
- Pain going down the back or front of your leg
- More severe back pain, especially when bending forward
- Excessive levels of stiffness in your lower back
These symptoms need to be properly assessed by an experienced Physiotherapist. They will diagnose the cause of your back pain and provide appropriate treatment, management and advice.
A very small percentage of back pain can be caused by more serious conditions like cauda equina, where the nerves at the bottom of your spinal cord are being compressed.
If anyone of the following symptoms are experiences, an immediate medical advice should be taken:
- Unsteady when standing or walking
- Difficulties passing or controlling bladder or bowels or numbness in either area
- If you have a previous history of cancer or osteoporosis
- Back pain accompanied by unexplained weight loss or fever
How can physiotherapy be useful for back pain?
A Physiotherapist assesses, determines the cause of back pain and accordingly a treatment protocol is devised. Physiotherapy helps in the treatment of back pain in the following ways:
Pain Reduction mainly by using electrotherapy modalities like IFT, Ultrasound, TENS etc. and may be use of some manual mobilization techniques.
Improve Flexibility of the spine by stretching the muscles and the fascia associated with the back.
Improving strength and stability by core strengthening and making the muscles surrounding the back, strong.
Postural Correction and Ergonomic Advice to avoid further stress on the tissues and to prevent reoccurrence.