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Physiotherapy for Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is very common and can range from mild discomfort to debilitating. While this pain will often go away on its own, treating it is the best way to make sure it won't return in the future. Regardless of its severity, our Nepean Sports Medicine & Physiotherapy Centre physiotherapist team are here to explain how we can help you to recover from and prevent lower back pain.

What is lower back pain?

Lower back pain is a very common source of discomfort. It can be caused by a wide range of behaviours and conditions, from improper form when carrying heavy objects and sitting for extended periods of time to poor physical health or chronic health issues. When you identify back pain as a problem and speak to your physician about it, it is common to be prescribed up to a month-long course of physiotherapy to help strengthen your body and alleviate your pain. If physical therapy is not successful, then other treatment options such as surgery may need to be considered. 

Lower back pain comes in two varieties, localized and radiating pain. Localized pain is felt only in your lower back and in your buttocks, radiating pain can be felt down one or both of your legs and in your feet as well. Radiating pain can also manifest itself as a numbness in either leg or a tingling sensation. If you experience any of these symptoms, it might be worth looking up a physiotherapy center and inquiring about physical therapy treatments for your condition.

Risk Factors for Low Back Pain

Low back pain can be caused by a variety of factors. Poor posture (especially during sitting - at work, home, or in the car) is a very common one.

So is tight hamstrings: when hamstrings cannot stretch enough for a forward bend, the back will take the ’stretch/load’. After a while, with repetition, this can result in a strained back. Weak core muscles are a significant risk factor too, and often require deep abdominal and spinal stabilization (Transversus Abdominis) to resolve the issue.

In other cases, if the Thoracic (rib cage spine) is not mobile enough for rotation and sports/movements, the low back will try to compensate. The problem in these cases is that the low back joints only have 1 - 3 degrees of movement each, and only 5 segments (5 - 15 degrees of rotation), so this compensation can very easily lead to joint damage and injury.

Finally, it is also important to note that pain in the legs can also often be related or directly caused by problems with the back, even if you aren't actually feeling any back pain.

The long and short of it all is that where it hurts IS NOT always where the problem is, and conversely, just because you are not experiencing any back pain, it does not mean there is not an issue with your back that needs to be resolved in order to resolve pain elsewhere.

Should I Wait For My Pain To Go Away On Its Own?

Absolutely not! While lower back pain will often subside eventually, untreated pain can flare up again later. You pain may even become chronic if left for long enough, as whatever the cause of your pain is, continues to impact your body. The earlier you are able to get treatment for your pain, the better. 

Physiotherapy for your lower back help to strengthen your body and prevent you from being injured or experiencing pain again, not only dispelling your discomfort, but ensuring you have the exercises and tools to prevent it in the future. 

Kinds of Physical Therapy Treatments for Lower Back Pain

There are two general categories of physiotherapy which can be used to treat lower back pain: passive and active physical therapies. 

Passive physical therapies involve things being done to you as a patient, including cold or heat pack applied to painful areas or electrical stimulation of muscles in the area. Active physical therapies focus on specific stretches and exercises. In most lower back treatment plans, active physicals therapies take center stage. 

Your physiotherapy treatment plan will be specifically targeted at the source of your pain and your needs, however most physiotherapy treatment plans for lower back pain will include manual therapy and movement exercises. Manual therapy involves your physiotherapist using hands-on techniques to loosen stiff joints and muscles in and around your spine. Movement exercises help to restore motion, flexibility and strength in your body, alleviating pain the process. These exercises will be shown and taught to you by your physiotherapist and then prescribed for you to do on your own as well. 

Physiotherapy for Lower Back Pain And Surgery

While physical therapy can often completely alleviate and prevent future lower back pain, sometimes the issues are more difficult to fix. Particularly severe instances of chronic back pain, or pain that is caused by a source which cannot be entirely addressed by physiotherapy, will need surgery to be truly alleviated. 

That being said, there is substantial evidence indicating that physiotherapy both before and after surgery of any kind improves its efficacy and quickens your recovery time. Your body will heal better if it is active and healthy. Unless there are reasons why you would not be able to do so, usually your doctor will prescribe your a treatment of physiotherapy for your lower back pain before considering surgical intervention. 

You should visit your doctor when you begin experiencing persistent lower back and speak to them before pursuing physiotherapy so they have an opportunity to assess you for causes such as a fracture or tumor, which may not require, or even inhibit the effectiveness of physiotherapeutic treatments. 

Are your experiencing pain and discomfort in your lower back?

Our team of specially trained physiotherapists are here to help you recover.

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Welcome to the Nepean Sports Medicine & Physiotherapy Centre blog, where we provide lots of helpful tips, news, information and advice about physiotherapy and massage treatments, as well as general health and wellness, in Nepean and Ottawa.

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