If you suffer from low back pain, you are not alone; spinal pain is pervasive and understandably depressing. Back pain affects around 80% of the UK’s population. At some point in their lives, we are likely to head to the painkiller shelf or seek the help of Physio, acupuncturist or Osteopath. Understandably low back pain is one of the most common reasons people consult osteopaths at The Hatfield Practice
What Causes Back Pain?
In most cases, back pain will be a minor injury or a strain, self-limiting and lasting a day or three; rather than anything more serious. Physical sprains may pull on internal joints, nerves or tissue, causing inflammation and swelling. You could liken this to someone violently bending your fingers back. The fingers get very sore and swell up. Fortunately for hands that they don’t have the person weight bearing down on them after injury as the spine does.
By design, the body weight above the painful injury pushes down to compress one or more spinal joints. The pressure irritates and distends the swelling within the joint triggering further inflammation and pain. This type of low back pain event can often be described as ‘simple low back pain’. In these cases, spinal discs the pads that cushion the spine have not been ruptured or damaged. Back pain symptoms often occur suddenly and can be triggered by a particular movement, but the causes may have been building for some time.
Some of the most common causes of stress and strain on the spine include:
- Bad posture
- Being overweight
- Being unfit
- Slouching in chairs
- Driving in hunched positions
- Unsupportive mattress or pillow
- Standing, sitting or bending down for long periods of time
- Lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling loads that are too heavy, or performing these tasks incorrectly
- A trip or fall
- Stress or anxiety
- Generally overdoing it
In some cases, there may be a more severe underlying causes of your pain, but these are less common. These causes include:
- Degenerative conditions such as disc disease or arthritis
- Congenital abnormalities in the spine (e.g. scoliosis)
- A prolapsed disc
- Deformities of the spine
- Infection or collapse of the vertebrae
- Spinal Stenosis
- Cancer or Tuberculosis
How do Osteopaths and Physiotherapists treat back pain?
Osteopathsand physiotherapists treat people using skilled hands-on techniques. Its a whole body system of medicine that examines the entire body. Detailed postural and injury analysis is used to identify sources of pain and restricted movement. These restrictions may indicate damage or impaired function.
Osteopathy aims to relieve back pain by:
- Stretching the muscles and ligaments of the back
- Reducing muscle spasms
- Restoring better mobility to the vertebrae of the back
- Improving blood flow and lymphatic drainage
- Promoting free movement of the entire musculoskeletal system
An osteopath may also advise a patient on techniques for avoiding and relieving furure episodes of back pain, including: