Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is probably the most common complaint seen in private physiotherapy practices across Australia. Up to 80% of adults struggle with lower back pain at some point in their life, and for 10% of them, it will lead to long term pain and disability (Briggs & Buchbinder, 2009). Lower back pain can cause significant disruption and discomfort for younger, middle aged and older adults and is often associated with restricted workforce participation and elevated rates of psychological distress including anxiety and depression.

Many individuals elect to manage their back pain through pharmacological means such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (Nurofen, Voltaren) or paracetamol (Panadol). While these remedies can produce varying levels of relief, they are not effective for all individuals and their short term and long term use can result in unpleasant side-effects. Additionally their use is not always safe for individuals taking other prescription medications.

Individuals presenting to physiotherapists with a sore back are usually experiencing non-specific lower back pain. Non-specific lower back pain is usually related to an inflammatory, mechanical or neuropathic causes.

Inflammatory related lower back pain usually indicates inflammation in a tissue structure, such as a joint, muscle, tendon, ligament or intervertebral disc. The pain is often constant and sharp, and typically worse during the night and first thing in the morning.

Mechanical lower back pain refers to injuries to the joints, intervertebral discs, muscles, tendons and ligaments in the lower back. This can include degenerative changes in the relevant joints and discs and muscular tenderness and tightness. Symptoms may be located in the lower back and/or may spread to the buttock and leg as well. The pain can be intermittent and relieved by particular activities, aggravated by others, and tends to worsen as the day progresses Neuropathic pain tends to result from long-standing back pain that has led to nerves continuing to relay messages of pain to the brain despite there being no evidence of ongoing injury. The pain may be sharp, stabbing, burning and severe, and involve pins and needles or numbness. This sort of pain is most commonly observed in those suffering from sciatica or continued pain following spinal surgery. The chronic and severe nature of neuropathic pain often leads to a downwards spiral in function including a reduced capacity to work, anxiety, depression and relationship difficulties.

Physiotherapy and massage offers an alternative management for non-specific lower back pain. These techniques are safe and side-effect free and may involve loosening joints and muscles and facilitating healing of inflamed discs, tendons and ligaments. Through posture education and muscle retraining via clinical pilates, over time, physiotherapy can help to reduce the chances of further episodes of back pain arising in the future.

If you are struggling with lower back pain and searching for someone who will help you achieve relief from your pain, contact Brighton Bay Physiotherapy on 8506 0451 to make an appointment with one of our dynamic, highly skilled physiotherapists.

Briggs, A.M., & Buchbinder, R. (2009). Back pain: a National Health Priority Area in Australia? Medical Journal of Australia, 190 (9), 499-502. Does someone you know seek pain relief?

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Last Updated - September 3, 2012

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