Treating Lower Back Pain
By Carin Penberthy, Physiotherapist
Lower back pain can be debilitating, not only from a pain point of view, but functionally can be very limiting and have a major effect on daily life and work activities.
Although some episodes of lower back pain can be self-limiting and resolve by themselves, physiotherapy can help achieve a faster recovery, with a reduction in pain and an increase in mobility and function, hopefully reducing the severity and length of the back pain episode. This will also assist in reducing the likelihood of future back pain episodes.
Physiotherapists are experts in the assessment of musculoskeletal injuries, especially spinal related pain. A thorough and detailed assessment will help to ascertain the structures responsible for your pain. At Wisdom Physiotherapy, your physiotherapist will help give you a better understanding of the structures that may be contributing to the pain and educating you why this has occurred, and what may be contributing to this episode. This will then assist in guiding you on management of this episode and further self- managing techniques to try to prevent future episodes.
Physiotherapy for lower back pain short-term goals are to reduce pain and inflammation, promote healing, restore range of motion and strength, and increase function. Long-term goals are to restore full function to your desired activities and get back to functioning safely. Education and an ongoing exercise program will help with trying to reduce the risk of recurrence.
Your physiotherapist will discuss the appropriate treatment plan and may involve:
- Joint mobilisation and manipulation
- Soft tissue massage
- Neural mobilisation
- Deloading taping techniques and postural supports
- Dry needling
- Stretching (both passive and active)
- Strengthening exercises
- Clinical Pilates
- Advice on recommended positions and postures at home and during work
- Optimising work station positions and manual handling techniques.
Stretching and specific strengthening exercises will speed up recovery from acute lower back pain by regaining the range of motion and strengthening the back and abdominal muscles. Exercise prescription must take into account the diagnosis and clinical presentation. Lower abdominal core strength programs facilitate important muscles that dynamically control and stabilise your lower back and pelvis. Depending on your muscle recruitment pattern, the physiotherapist will prescribe the best exercises for you. We find this is best done under our supervision in our Clinical Pilates studio.
Other treatment options with lower back pain may include:
- Over the counter (OTC) medication for pain relief such as panadol, aspirin and for inflammation such as nurofen, ibuprofen, are available. OTC medication may help with pain relief for muscle related pain. If it more related to disc problems or nerve compression may not respond to OTC medication.
- Prescription medication may be needed if OTC medication hasn’t helped. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID’s) may assist with reducing back inflammation and assisting in pain relief.
- Nerve pain such as sciatica from a bulging disc may also need corticosteroids and anaesthetic medication that may be injected to reduce inflammation. Corticosteroids may be injected intramuscularly, taken orally or under imaging.
So don’t put up with the pain, be proactive in your recovery and seek the expert advice from Wisdom Physiotherapy, we are here and can help!
To make an appointment with Carin, click here to book online today.