What you need to know about lower back pain – causes, symptoms and treatment
Most of us at some time or another may be affected by lower back pain. In some cases, it can even lead to so much pain, that time may need to be taken off work to feel better. If you have, you’re not alone.
Did you know that on average, back pain accounts for 36% of all work-related ill health, and it causes over 3 million lost working days each year? That’s a lot of people taking time off work because of back problems.
Relieve Clinic provides osteopathy in Leeds, which is one of the treatments that your GP may recommend. Let’s take a more detailed look the causes, symptoms of lower back pain and how osteopathy can help.
The muscles, vertebrae, ligaments and discs in the lower back are designed to support the weight of the upper body, as well as to protect the spinal column. They’re also responsible for providing us with mobility for bending and twisting. This makes the lower back extremely vulnerable to pulled muscles, sprained ligaments or ‘slipped discs’, simply because it plays such an important role in our everyday life.
It’s extremely common to injure your lower back, in fact one in three people do so every year. A soft tissue strain or sprain can be something that happens suddenly, or it can develop over time from repetitive movement. Lower back pain can also be caused by damage to the intervertebral discs, nerve roots or spinal joints.
Here are some common causes of lower back pain:
- Overstretching your back and tearing a muscle / spraining a ligament
- Lifting something heavy with poor posture and whilst twisting the spine
- Sitting all day without activity
- Having a fall and twisting your back
- A sports injury from twisting or a large force of impact.
Less common causes of lower back pain are:
- Bone disorders
There can be a wide variety of symptoms with lower back pain. Pain can range from mild spasms that may come and go, to severe pain that is extremely debilitating.
The body has an inflammatory healing response, so you may feel ‘acute’ pain even with a slight to moderate lower back injury. In some instances, lower back pain may improve within four to six weeks, as your body heals. However, this all depends on the severity of the injury.
If pain goes on for more than three months it’s categorised as ‘chronic’, as the body may not be able to heal it naturally.
The following symptoms are typical of lower back pain:
- Dull or achy pain in the lower back
- Pins and needles, tingling, numbness into buttocks and/or legs
- Muscle spasms and tightness in lower back, hips and pelvis
- Pain when sitting or standing for long periods
- Pain when standing straight, walking or sitting down
In the case of sudden pain that lasts for a few days or weeks, over-the-counter painkillers may help ease a lower back issue in the short term. Experiencing some back pain relief can also help you keep mobile.
Exercise is actually amongst the best things you can do for lower back pain, as it makes you fitter and more flexible. It also releases feel-good endorphins to counter any pain, and makes you feel more positive.
Walking, swimming, cycling or yoga are all gentle, low impact exercises that are excellent for reducing lower back pain.
If you rely on painkillers and bed rest alone, a lower back injury can take much longer to heal naturally. It might drag on for weeks, months, or even years. Lower back pain can limit your activities, affect your work life, and your ability to sleep.
If it’s been six weeks and you’re still having back problems, please see your GP and find out about further lower back pain treatment options.
Your GP may refer you for exercise-based or hands-on treatment for lower back pain such as, osteopathy or physiotherapy.
Osteopathy can significantly reduce lower back pain. It uses a combination of massage, myofascial release and manipulation of muscles and joints, to provide lower back pain relief and improve the range of movement in the affected area.
If your job or sporting activities are causing lower back pain, then your osteopath can help you to find ways to manage pain and prevent further injury. For instance, they can suggest functional exercises to do at work and at home to strengthen back muscles and improve flexibility.
The chance of getting lower back pain is greatly reduced simply by looking after your back. Your osteopath will provide you with advice, so you’re more aware of the ways you can injure your back, and steps you can take to decrease this risk.
Some of these steps might be:
- To participate in regular exercise to strengthen your back muscles
- To build up your fitness slowly if you’re trying a new activity
- To bend your knees, not your back, when lifting heavy objects
- To practice an improved posture at work and set up your workstation correctly
- To avoid sitting or standing in the same position for long periods of time.
If your back pain has been going on for a while or keeps recurring, then make an appointment with one of our expert osteopaths. At Relieve Clinic, our aim is to get you pain-free and back to your daily activities or sport, with a mind to managing and preventing further injury.
We perform a thorough assessment to determine the underlying issue and what osteopathic treatment is best for your lower back. Our osteopathic treatment programs are tailored to suit each client. Some factors we take into consideration are your: lifestyle, work, hobbies and general health.
Visit our Pricing page for the treatments we offer.