Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain refers to pain lasting longer than a few weeks. The pain may be constantly present or there may be periods where it is absent only to arise again at a later date. Chronic back pain is often the result of poor posture and lack of strength through the lower spine, abdominals and pelvic region. Chronic pain can also cause nerve fibres in the central nervous system to become hypersensitive to pain. Consequently, the brain can at times receive information that damage is occurring somewhere in the spine when it actually is not happening. Physiotherapy treatment for chronic back pain is often heavily based on assessing muscle strength and flexibility and devising an exercise plan to address identified problems.


These often take the form of pilates based exercises where there is a focus on conscious activating particular muscles while maintaining a relaxed pattern of breathing and introducing gradually more challenging movements and exercises. Individuals with chronic pain are often unable to perform daily activities such as climbing stairs, reaching up to high cupboards, pushing a shopping trolley and sleeping well. While many of these difficulties can be lessened by a functional exercise program aimed at improving overall strength and flexibility, poor sleep and feelings of frustration can be signs of underlying anxiety or depression. While intervention from a counsellor of psychologist is sometimes required, physiotherapists can help patients to pace themselves with activities, can provide information about the nature of chronic pain and assist patients with exercises for enhancing relaxation.

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Last Updated - June 1, 2022

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