1. Get it checked
Low back pain presents in many ways, and can be caused by many different factors. Some of these factors include:
Work-related movements, activities and postures
Emotional and mental stress (as stress decreases our pain tolerance, meaning we respond to less intense stimuli)
Unaccustomed activities or loads (increase in training loads, activities you aren’t used to doing, new training or new exercises)
Repetitive or sustained movements or positions (such as sitting in one place for a long period)
The lower back is comprised of many tissues and components and includes anything between the lower ribs and hips (this includes the pelvis, as the sacrum, or ‘tail bone’, is part of the spine). As so many tissues are included in the lower back, there can be many tissues affected or contributing to your pain.
Some causes of low back pain are not harmless, and can lead to more severe complications, such as nerve compression and abdominal symptoms. Low back pain can also be present when we have infections in internal organs. So you should always have any back pain episodes assessed by your osteopath to rule out causes warranting further investigation or medical referral and for appropriate management and advice.
2. Pain relief isn’t a bad thing
Many people are averse to the idea of taking medication, such as pain killers or anti-inflammatory medications. While we do not prescribe or provide specific recommendations on what medications to take, we do follow guidelines regarding the management of back pain. These guidelines recommend the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications in episodes of back pain. Pain killers (such as paracetamol) do not appear to provide significant relief and are not typically recommended.
Taking medications in a painful period is NOT a bad thing and is recommended by these guidelines, as the goal is to get you moving again sooner, which will reduce your recovery time. So if pain relief helps you move better, quicker, then that’s worth considering their short term use.
You should always consult your pharmacist for advice on medication with your back pain
3. Keep moving
There is overwhelming evidence available that supports the early return to activities and the continuation of movement even in an acute flare up.
Movements that do not cause significant discomfort are still recommended, in fact some discomfort is a good thing, as it can help maintain or increase your tissue tolerance and help avoid fear of movement, reduction in muscle strength and tone, and stiffening of regions due to lack of use.
Motion is lotion, and movement is life, as they say : )
4. Don’t fear pain
This is probably my favourite and arguably the most important when it comes to painful episodes or flare-ups.
Please note: If you have undiagnosed back pain, or are unsure of what is going on, consult your osteopath for a thorough screening and assessment
Pain is a natural and necessary response from your nervous system. It’s a fundamental and primitive sensation that is crucial for our survival. In fact, people who cannot feel pain (a condition referred to as ‘congenital insensitivity to pain’) typically die at an early age due to injury or illness, as they are not able to recognise when something is wrong, as they don’t feel the pain (such as with infections and open wounds).
Pain is your nervous system’s way of informing you of a ‘potential’ threat or danger to your body. It can be thought of as an alarm system. E.g.You place your hand on a hot surface and pain is produced to encourage you to remove your hand from the heat source. Without doing so would cause you to sustain tissue damage.
Your nervous system is (arguably) a fairly primitive thing, so it doesn’t always get the ratio of amount of tissue damage and the amount of pain produced accurate and equal.
Often we get a great deal of pain from little or no significant tissue damage. Other times we can have what would be thought of as extreme cases of tissue damage with little or no pain produced.
So (once your back pain has been assessed, and no significant tissue damage is identified) you don’t need to fear your pain is an indication of significant tissue injury, or aggravating the injury with particular movements as an indication of ‘further’ damaging something. The pain is your body’s way of trying to protect you from doing something it fears will harm you. It tends to just over-react quite often : )
5. Manual therapy can provide significant relief
We have a great deal of research that supports the use of massage, mobilisation, manipulation and other manual therapies in the treatment of low back pain.
Osteopathic treatment can provide significant relief of symptoms (both acute and chronic), and reduce recovery and return to activity times. Not only that, but Osteopaths can identify contributing and causative factors and provide long term advice on how to reduce severity of episodes and ideally prevent back pain episodes as much as possible.
If you are suffering from low back pain (whether a new or old complaint), or know someone who is, or if you simply would like assessment or advice on managing your back pain, give us a call now, or book online.
CLICK HERE to book an appointment with one our Osteopaths today!