Lower back pain (LBP) is thought to affect around 60-80% of the Western population throughout the course of their life. Many people don’t have any preceding events to cause lower back pain, although specific injuries can also initiate their symptoms. Low back pain constitutes almost half of all chronic pain. This has a huge effect on quality of life, as people with lower back pain tend to have more time off work and higher of medical costs than those who do not have symptoms.
What causes lower back pain
Sedentary lifestyles, increased body weight, reduced physical activity and poor postures are all contributing factors to LBP. For example, obesity rates in the western world have never been higher. Unfortunately this is known to cause greater rates of musculoskeletal pain than ever before. LBP can strike suddenly or build up slowly over a period of time. Many people report sudden and severe onset of low back pain from a seemingly innocent movement. Others find that their back aches towards the end of the workday and follows a regular pattern. Thankfully, more and more workplaces are advocating for better ergonomic set-ups in order to pre-emptively reduce the incidence of LBP amongst employees.
Dealing with lower back pain
Dealing with LBP is complicated as there are many treatments to choose from. Unfortunately, there is rarely a miracle cure that works for everyone. What research tells us is that effective and timely advice, thorough professional assessment and a tailored exercise program shows the best outcomes in the long term.
There are some cases where your physiotherapist or doctor will suggest that you have imaging such as an x-ray or MRI. While imaging can be helpful in ruling out serious injuries it is important to realise that if everyone was to have an MRI of their spine, it is reasonable to expect that most people would have changes in the appearance of their spines, even if they don’t have any pain or other symptoms. The take-home message is that scans do not always paint an accurate picture of what is happening within someone’s back.
The back is actually made up of a number of different structures. These together to achieve the required movements needed to perform daily activities. With such a complex combination of tissues and joints, aches and pains can be caused by any number of structures. Keeping the muscles and joints of the spine strong and healthy can have a remarkable impact on pain levels regardless of the specific structure causing symptoms.
If you are suffering from low back pain, speak to your physiotherapist for advice on how to best manage your symptoms. While nobody can prevent back pain with 100% certainty, it’s good to keep active and take care with heavy labour. This can reduce your chances of having lower back pain.
None of the information in this newsletter is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual condition.
Physio Direct is ACC accredited so you can come to us directly to get an injury registered with ACC without having to go to your GP first, followed by an assessment, treatment and follow up review, to ensure correct care and recovery. Physio Direct can also refer you directly for Cortisone injections, X-Rays and Ultra Sound Scans and on to Specialists if needed.
Please feel free to print out these news letters and put the in the staffroom and hand them out to your team. Understanding more about injuries, gives people the power to prevent an injury from occurring in the first place. Prevention and education is the key!