Lower back pain can be chronic or acute. This means that it is either new and short term, or has been around for longer than 3 months.
Low back pain can be incredibly severe with antalgic gait (where you are leaning to one side or forwards) or can be mild and more of an annoyance which interrupts your daily life.
When you visit your practitioner, they will need to assess and diagnose your back pain. This important to rule out and untoward underlying reason which may need further investigation or medical attention.
Most often, even with severe back pain, the cause is classed as mechanical and this should be treated with dietary supplements, exercise, physical therapy such as osteopathy or massage, and over the counter analgesia. Also, hot or cold compresses are extremely effective for pain relief and actually offer a physiological change to the painful tissues.
With mechanical lower back pain, the cause of the pain may be a lumbar disc strain, facet joint irritation, muscular tension or spasm, or in reality a combination of those. This is because irritation of the facet joints may occur when a disc is strained or prolapsed, and you will certainly get muscular tension/spasm as a self-protection mechanism to prevent further injury. Your osteopath will help you to get to the bottom of what’s going on for you.
Key advice for a speedier recovery from low back pain is to keep moving – within your pain limits, but certainly the old advice of lying prostate does NOT improve your recovery time.
As movement is key to recovery, osteopathy aims to introduce movement where it is needed in the lower back. Whether this at the level of the individual vertebra or more globally through the muscular system the treatment aims to help you move more freely and speed up the process of healing.
People often ask if they should get a scan. This is understandable when you experience intense pain and your anxiety levels are up as a result – you worry something really bad is going on. However, it is important to know that the results often found on an MRI are also found in patients who are asymptomatic. This means that it does not offer a resolute answer for the cause of your back pain.
MRI and CT scans are important to diagnose fractures, systemic illness, nerve or spinal cord impingement and other more serious and non-musculoskeletal causes.