Low back pain is a prevalent medical condition reported to affect over 90% of the population at some time in their lives. Low back pain affects patients in many different ways, with each patient having their own unique experience. Back pain can, at times, have a serious impact on people’s everyday activities.
5 Common Causes Of Back Pain
Low Back Pain typically can be challenging to diagnose and treat, as there are many different causes and contributing factors unique to each individual. It is important, though, to understand what structure in your back is causing the back pain.
Your back comprises many structures, including facet joints, discs, ligaments, ribs, muscles, nerves, and sacroiliac joints. These structures can be easily strained, for example: from poor posture at your desk, by simply bending down to pick up a piece of paper, putting your baby into the back seat of the car, or by lifting something awkwardly on a work site.
5 common causes of back pain are:
Injury or trauma to a vertebra
Pulled muscles or ligaments throughout the spine
Strained or prolapsed discs
Irritated spinal nerve roots causing nerve symptoms in our legs or other extremities
Existing medical conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis
6 Top Tips When Suffering From Back Pain
When back pain occurs, it can cause anxiety and stress; here are a few tips to help you manage when dealing with back pain.
Remain Calm. More than 90% of patients with acute back pain will recover fully over some weeks.
Seek Professional Advice. See an Osteopath, GP or other healthcare provider and get an accurate diagnosis of what is causing your back pain.
Avoid Heavy Lifting, Twisting And Bending. This includes gardening, vacuuming, lifting your baby in and out of the car, heavy lifting on-site etc.)
Remain Mobile. Bed rest is not recommended; avoid sitting for long periods. Short walks are suggested, if possible. Continue your daily activities as much as you can tolerate.
Discover The Root Cause. Figuring out and treating the root cause of your back pain contributes to a speedier recovery and helps prevent the injury from reoccurring.
Strengthen And Repair. Once the pain subsides, plan to strengthen up your back and core muscles to prevent reoccurrence.
Serious Complications of Back Pain – Red Flags
As mentioned previously, most back pain will improve over several weeks. However, there are some serious symptoms that we refer to as ‘red flags’ which should never be ignored or left untreated – if you have any of these, always see your Osteopath.
Problems with starting and stopping urination and defecation are a medical emergency – go straight to A&E.
4 Back Pain Home Remedies
Most back pain gets better within a few weeks of home treatment; however, everyone’s pain is different, and back pain can be a complicated condition as there can be multiple factors at play. The following remedies are given as a guide only; always check with your Osteopath for professional advice on caring for your back injury.
1. Get Moving Again
Although getting up and moving about may be the last thing you feel like doing – exercise helps. A short walk or low impact activity are a great place to start; the movement will help free up muscles and get things working again. Stretching is also a good idea once you feel up to it. There are plenty of stretches online that can help with back pain; some of the more common ones are:
Touching The Toes. Leaning over gently stretching hamstrings and lower back.
Inverting The Spine. Laying on your stomach while gently lifting your chest with your hands.
Arching And Relaxing The Back. On your hands and knees, slowly alternate between arching your back toward the ceiling and dipping it toward the floor.
Simple Back Stretch. Sitting on your heels, leaning forward, placing your head on the floor and stretching your arms out in front of your head.
Knee Hug. Laying on your back while pulling knees up to the chest, see video below.
2. Check Your Surroundings
Leaning over your desk all day, monitors at incorrect heights and mismatched chair and desk heights can all lead to back pain, as can uneven chairs and beds. Take a good look at your daily environment and make sure everything follows ergonomic principles.
Ice packs are most beneficial immediately after the injury strikes to help keep inflammation down. At the same time, heat packs are good for muscle relief and aiding in getting you up and about again.
4. Pain Relief Creams Or Arnica
You will find several pain relief creams available at your local chemist, or you could try using Arnica. Arnica is a homoeopathic remedy used for treating muscle pain, swelling, bruising, and other minor injuries.
Do I Need Imaging Of My Back?
In most cases of back pain – imaging is not required. However, in some cases, imaging or blood tests may be required to rule out more serious causes of back pain if an underlying medical issue is suspected. One or more of the following tests may be required.
Blood Tests. Blood tests are used to rule out an underlying infection that might be causing your pain.
X-ray. X-rays are useful if a fracture or degeneration is suspected. X-rays do not show disc bulges or nerve root impingement.
Scans. MRI or CT scans are used to diagnose herniated discs or problems with muscles, tendons, nerves and ligaments.
How An Osteopath Can Help
Osteopaths are highly skilled in recognising and identifying the various structures in your back that may be the source of your pain. They will endeavour to discover and treat the root cause of your pain and return you to everyday activities in as quick a time as possible.
When visiting an Osteopath, you can expect a detailed medical history to be taken, along with a thorough Osteopathic examination to assist the diagnostic process and identify any red flags that may be present. Treatment techniques include soft tissue and joint mobilisation, manipulation, massage and various stretching exercises, and a detailed recovery and prevention plan. Osteopaths can also refer a patient for further orthopaedic assessment, including MRI, steroidal injections or surgery if needed.