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low back pain

Low Back Pain is thought to afflict approximately 8 out of 10 people during the course of their lives, and as such is a huge economic burden as well as a potentially debilitating and life altering condition to the individual. The presentation of LBP can be extremely diverse from an ongoing ache over many years, to acute episodes where you feel unable to straighten up, to nerve referred pains such as sciatica. It is because of this variety that it is essential that a back specialist, such as your physiotherapist, fully assesses your condition to determine the appropriate course of treatment for your particular symptoms. All of our physiotherapists are highly experienced in treating LBP as it is by far the most common condition that we encounter in our practises.

With a very detailed assessment and observation of normal movements our physiotherapists will be able to diagnose the cause of your back pain. Two of the most commonly encountered presentations are listed below:

Disc Related Pain:

Discs fills the space between each vertebrae throughout the spinal column, that acts like shock absorbers and helps to maintain a balanced distribution of forces within the spine. Each disc consists of a gel like centre, called the nucleus, and is surrounded by an outer protective layer called the annulus. Due to the often repetitive and sustained postural nature of many of our professions and hobbies the disc can be placed under repeated stress in certain positions and repetitive movements. This can lead to a bulging of the disc, which can press on some of the surrounding structures producing pain. If there is compression on the nerve, you are likely to experience pins and needles, or numbness sometimes down to your toes.

 

Facet Joint Pain:

Each vertebra has two facet joints connecting to the level above and two to the level below. In a well conditioned back the facet joints slide and rotate on each other to allow us to move normally and without pain. With LBP this can fail to happen that results into one or more of the facets may become restricted in its ability to slide and rotate, or following trauma may be impacted on the either the facet above or below, leading to LBP. The facet joints usually produce pain locally to one side, but if highly aggravated may refer pain into the leg.

Treatment for LBP:

We strongly believe that a course of treatment must address not only the actual symptoms, but the cause of the problem. A carefull history is important even if the patient does not realise at the time what they have done to cause the problem. When delving into the requirements of their occupations, hobbies or family life, find clues as to why this may have happened. Initial treatment may involve manipulation or mobilisation, and exercises to restore the range of movement, and reduce the pain in your back. Following this, a consideration of lifestyle factors and a strengthening program to address the stabilizers around your back (e.g. Pilates) is often indicated. Every treatment program is individually designed to your symptoms and lifestyle demands.


 



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