Lower back pain
Causes of lower back pain:
Pain in the lower region of the back is one of the most common locations to experience pain in a person’s life. Pains can range from stiffness, dull aches and lack of mobility all the way through to debilitating pain. Lower back pain generally falls into two categories:
Acute low back pain includes sharp, intense and debilitating pain that may be accompanied by shooting pain into the legs. Many patients find the likes of walking up/down stairs, putting on shoes or socks, getting in and out of chairs or cars and picking objects up from the floor incredibly painful and difficult.
Chronic low back pain includes stiffness sensations, dull achy pain that may come and go or remain constantly in one location. In some cases nothing changes this sensation, it may be constant no matter what position they are in. Other patients feel this sensation first thing every morning after waking up or only when leaning forward or backward.
In the majority of cases low back pain is a result of long term irritation to muscles and joints in the back. This includes build up of pressure from poor sitting postures (desk bound or delivery jobs) or lifting techniques in manual jobs (stacking shelves, assembling furniture, gardening etc).History of sporting injuries can also be a factor. Even hobbies such as reading in bed or slouched over a chair can provoke low back pain.
Constant pain, whether dull or strong, in the low back region
Pain bending forward to pick up objects or put on shoes and socks
Pain leaning backward or manoeuvring in and out of cars
Pain coughing, laughing, sneezing, or when initiating bowel movements
Pain walking, sitting, standing, getting out of bed, or during sports
Weakness sensation in the legs or back
Pins and needles or numbness down the front, side or back of the leg
Sharp pain when sitting on hard stools or wooden chairs
As always, assessment of the upper back and rib function, along with the pelvis, hips, knees and ankles is essential to identify the root cause of the problem. Management of low back pain will depend on which category it falls into, and your individual presentation.
Acute low back pain: often more gentle and slow techniques will ease the body out of the pain most effectively. The body appears to favour the ‘less is more’ approach at least when beginning the treatment plan. Once the body has let go of most of the pain and healed a lot of the damaged tissue treatments can be longer and involve more work.
Chronic low back pain: often the pain becomes long term because the body has suffered for so long it tries to bury and ignore the back pain. Treatments will ‘dig up’ the buried injury and try to resolve the root cause of the problem. In many cases only a handful of treatments are needed to resolve decades worth of backache.
Treatment of acute and lower back pain include osteopathic mobilisation techniques of the spine and pelvic joints both rhythmically and also some stronger pressure to release tight joints. Spinal manipulation, if indicated, may also be employed to release particularly irritated joints. Soft tissue techniques to ease muscle tension and deep tissue techniques to release spasms in gluteal and low back related muscles. Muscle techniques that involve a series of specific contractions and relaxations also unwind the tension throughout spinal muscles. In many cases temporary adjustments in walking, sitting, standing and sport postures may need to be employed to encourage the body back to normal.
Treatment plans for low back, sacral and coccyx pain depend entirely on what is found during the consultation and follow up sessions. This is why, as osteopaths, we will design a treatment which is as accurate and efficient for each patient as possible. Self care advice will be given, including functional exercises, movements, and stretches you can do at home to help manage the pain yourself.