Back pain is very common among adults and children and most people will inevitably suffer from it to some extent. It is normally the lower back that is affected as this is an area with the most movement in the spine. Lower back pain does not normally have a serious cause and in most cases is managed conservatively with physiotherapy and/or injections.
There are many connected parts within your back, including bones, joints, muscles, nerves, and tendons. Your spine supports your back and it is made up of 24 separate bones called vertebrae which are stacked on top of each other.
Between the vertebrae there are discs that act as shock absorbers and prevent the bones from rubbing against each other. Your vertebrae are also connected together by ligaments (attaching bone to bone) and tendons (attaching bone to muscles). The vertebrae are linked together by the facet joint that enables flexibility and movement of the spine. Your spinal cord threads through the vertebrae and it carries nerve signals between your brain and the rest of your body.
Your back is made up of your core stabilisers, which are the deep muscles that support your spine. On a superficial level, you have muscles underneath your skin that also assist with movement and protect your spine and organs.
How is back pain diagnosed?
A physiotherapist may ask you a number of questions to assist in their diagnosis. These include:
- Where exactly in your back are you experiencing the pain?
- Is the pain constant or intermittent?
- Is the pain radiating down your leg?
- Do you have any pins and needles or numbness?
- Do you have pain anywhere else?
- Is the pain sharp or a dull ache?
- Can you bend down or twist to the side?
- How does it affect your daily life?
- How long can you stand for before you get pain in your back?
- Have you been involved in any accident or fall?
- Do you have any fever?
- Are you suffering from loss of bowel or bladder control?
Possible causes of back pain:
- Fracture of the spine
- Ligament strain
- Muscular sprain
- Bulging or ruptured discs
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Postural low back pain
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- An infection
- Cauda equina syndrome
- Piriformis syndrome
- Tumours: benign or malignant
How to treat back pain
Suggestions for treatment includes:
- Heat therapy
- Ice therapy
- Pain medication
- Rest and activity modification
How we can help your back pain
We will do whatever we can to get you on the fastest route to recovery. Some of the treatment methods we use include:
- Strengthening exercises
- Myofascial trigger point release
- Cross-friction massage
- Stretching and range of movement exercises
- Functional exercises