Back pain is one of the most common complaints we see at the Inspired Physio clinic. It occurs in both the young, middle aged and older folk and is caused by something as menial as sneezing or reaching into the fridge to lifting a 20kg bag of potting mix into the car. People often see back pain as a ‘horrendous event’ that’s going to impact them for the rest of their lives but that is all very dependent on you and your attitude towards it. The three main tips I would advise if you suffer from lower back pain are…
1. Just because you have a ‘bulging disc’ on the CT scan that the doctor ordered does NOT mean it is the cause of your current pain
Most doctors will encourage you to get a scan to help diagnose the cause of your lower back pain and this can be an x-ray, CT scan or MRI. The scans can be helpful but do not always change what we, as physios will do as our treatment plan. What we also have to consider is how old is the injury on the scan? Was the bulging disc that they just found on your most recent scan present 10 years ago and the pain you have now is just coincidental? Or is it from your most recent episode of lower back pain?
2. What you think is a niggle now will more then likely become a full blown episode if you don’t get it seen to sooner
A niggle is the first sign that something is wrong. It is your body’s way of telling you that it is unhappy with either a particular position you keep exposing it to or a particular activity that it is not ready for. This is where it is key to LISTEN to what your body is telling you. As soon as you feel the niggle, get yourself to the clinic so it can be assessed and we can help you identify what the injury is and what lifestyle habits you have that may be aggravating it. Having your niggle treated sooner rather then later also means less treatments and quicker rehab. Don’t wait for the straw to quite literally break the camels back!
3. Moving is better then freezing but sometimes gravity sucks
When you first feel your niggle or back pain your brain will normally tell you to freeze – don’t move – moving hurts. When in actual fact movement is your friend. Gentle movement allows lubrication of the joints (as simple as walking) – ‘motion is lotion’ – which helps to reduce any stiffness that may be coming on. Applying heat can also help improve the circulation of blood through the surrounding lower back muscles which may spasm to protect any disc or joint injury. But sometimes – the injury can be more severe where even standing up straight is a struggle. This is where gravity is not your friend. Having the weight of your body pushing through your lower back or disc is what is causing your pain so laying horizontal will help relieve the pressure (laying on your tummy on the floor with a cushion under your hips encourages a neutral spine).
Just following these three tips could help shorten the length of time you have your back pain and get you back on track sooner rather then later. With the holiday period coming quickly it is a great time to get your niggles seen to so you know you can enjoy the holiday period free of pain! Who wouldn’t want a pain free holiday?!