Lower Back Pain (LBP) is one of the most common conditions and can be experienced by people of all ages. It can range in severity and in the length of time that it lasts. Here are five key pointers to keep in mind for yourself or a loved one if you are experiencing LBP.
1. Most people experience and recover from LBP at some point during their lives
Though LBP can feel overwhelming at the time, 95% of LBP has a simple musculoskeletal cause. 4% of cases involve compression of a nerve, and 1% of cases have a more serious cause (for example an infection, fracture or inflammatory disease).
How do I know the cause of my pain?
Your physiotherapist can work with you to help determine the cause of your pain by asking about the history of your pain and your current symptoms. They will also observe how you respond to some movements of the lower spine and legs to help determine what structures are involved in causing your pain. They can advise you if any further medical input or referral for imaging is required.
2. The odds are in your favour
90% of musculoskeletal LBP recovers within six weeks. Your physio can help you to speed up this process through stretching and strengthening exercises along with personalised advice and manual therapy. Your physio will ensure you are getting back to the things that are important to you as soon as possible, through a graded return to activity or sport.
3. Motion is lotion
One of the first pieces of advice you will receive from your physio is to continue moving. Spines are strong and flexible structures, and the likelihood that you will injure yourself with simple movement is slim to none. Movement promotes healing and prevents further stiffness and pain.
This doesn’t mean running a marathon or getting back into your full gym program first thing tomorrow but starting with simple and gentle exercises within a comfortable limit. Some examples of gentle mobility exercises are below. You can choose which of these exercises feel best for you.
4. Pain relief
As a starting point, simple stretches and mobility exercises can be very helpful to provide relief. Even more non-specific exercises, such as going for a walk or sitting on a stationary bike can help to relieve pain caused by stiffness.
Simple analgesics such as ibuprofen and paracetamol can be very effective when taken appropriately. Speak to your pharmacist if you are not sure of the most effective dose or combination that is best for you.
Many people find relief from LBP using heat or ice packs. There are many items on the market to help these stay in place to allow you to use them and continue to move about.
5. Preventing re-occurrence.
LBP can be overwhelming and unpleasant, so it makes sense that we want to prevent a re-occurrence in the future. The most significant lifestyle modification you can make is to ensure you are getting adequate levels of exercise. Aim to do at least a little every day, slowly increasing the intensity. Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods. Take a five-minute walk at work once in a while if you can, or use a standing desk. The Australian Physical Activity Guidelines provide some great advice on this subject below. To find out more, visit the guidelines here.
To start your LBP recovery journey, book in with a SportsCare professional today. We will assess your injury and create a custom recovery plan perfectly suited to you.