Osteopath Back Pain – Causes, Tips & Treatment
Did you know that back pain affects up to 80% of Australians. The pain can be acute pain which can come on suddenly and be severe, intense and debilitating or can be chronic, dull in nature and unrelenting – as well as severe in nature too.
Back pain is a large cause of people needing to take off time from work, and cause significant impact on work and home productivity. Chronic back pain can also affect its sufferers mentally due to the continual presence and restrictions it may place on one’s life.
The back is an amazing structure that is made up of different shaped vertebrae – 7 Cervical, 12 Thoracic, 5 Lumbar, sacrum and coccyx. These vertebrae are joined together by ‘facet’ joints, and separated by cushioning shock absorbers, the intervertebral discs. There are many associated ligaments and muscles that attach to and around the spine to hold it together and allow for stability and movement of the body structure. Back pain can include damage or inflammation to one or many of the above structures as well as its surrounding tissues which may include nerves and connective tissues.
BACK PAIN can include; problems in the upper back, midback and lower back, and can be caused by many different reasons. These can include:
- Muscle spasm and cramping,
- Disc bulge or prolapse, often also known as ‘slipped discs’
- Sciatica – from irritation of the sciatic nerve which then also causes pain into the bottom region and down the leg and foot
- Arthritis and inflammation of the spine
- Degeneration of the intervertebral discs and compression of nerves coming out of the spinal column
- Scoliosis of the spine
- Poor posture and sitting for long periods of time – this can cause muscle cramping tightness and localised pain, as well as neck pain and headaches
- Sporting injuries which can cause torn or strained muscles, sprained ligaments and joints
- Poor lifting technique and bending constantly,
- Being overweight
- Having poor posture and muscle tone and control
Always seek medical attention if along with back pain you have a fever and feel unwell, have numbness around your anus or genitals, numbness/weakness/pins and needles in your legs, and your pain is not getting better.
Back pain which is severe or doesn’t go away, should be managed by an expert to help with diagnosis and management of the condition. The majority of back pain is mainly musculoskeletal in nature, but other conditions such as infection, tumour or fracture should always be ruled out. Your osteopath is qualified to help assess, diagnose and treat musculoskeletal conditions, as well as advise on lifestyle factors including posture, exercise and diet. Your osteopath may also liase with your GP, sports physician or surgeon if pain killers, anti-inflamatories or imaging is required.
As most back pain is aggravated by sitting, it is no wonder that many working professionals who sit at their desks for up to 9 hours a day or more, it is no wonder back pain can be an issue and can affect productivity, work attendance and companies millions of dollars.
Here are some of our suggestions to try at work to help with lower back pain:
- Take a break every 45-60 minutes to stand up and leave your workstation. Roll your shoulders backwards, stretch your neck side to side, take some deep breaths and do some hip rolls to keep your body from stiffening up and offload your lower back, neck and shoulders.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor – avoid crossing your legs – to help keep your back straight while sitting!
- Avoid slumping forward by making sure you have an ergonomic chair that is correctly fitted for you (and not the person using it before you!
Here are some strategies you can try at home to relieve lower back pain and discomfort:
1. Rest (but not too much!) Make sure you give your body a chance to rest, recover and heal, but also make sure that you are moving within your limits too! Walking as much as you feel comfortable, whether that be 5 minutes or 20 minutes at a time, is very important part of your recovery and helping with pain management.
2. Avoiding lifting and bending as much as you can – this will help decrease strain on joints and discs in your back and help prevent muscle spasm from getting worse.
3. Use Heat or Ice on the affected area. Sometimes alternating with both can help reduce inflammation and reduce lower back pain and muscle spasm
4. Gentle exercise which can involve walking, swimming, hydrotherapy and stretching can help flexibility and mobility in your back. This in turn helps muscle and joint to decrease inflammation and spasm.
Our Melbourne Osteopaths are experienced in treating all sorts of Back pain complaints. Through a holistic approach to your body’s treatment, we work to reduce or remove your pain and get you back to enjoying your busy life to it’s capacity – from work, rest and play!!
If you are looking for an Osteopath in Elwood, Prahran, Middle Park. Caulfield, St. Kilda or Melbourne CBD, contact us or book an appointment with one of our osteopaths.