Lower Back Pains
Lower back pain (LBP) is one of the most disabling health issues in the UK.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, ‘NICE’ indicate that 1 in 3 adults in the UK suffer with some form of non-specific LBP, (which means there is no underlying disease or structural disturbance). Currently 2.5 million people in the UK seek help from their respective GP’s each year regarding LBP which in turn costs the NHS 1 billion pounds a year.
50 million working days are lost due to LBP.
There are numerous symptoms which can be associated to LBP, and can commonly be linked to other pain disorders, such as other muscular body pains, headaches, migraine, pelvic girdle pain, irritable bowel syndrome, as well as additional health issues such as depression and anxiety, which highlight the potentially complex and multidimensional nature of its problem.
In the majority of people, LBP is benign and will present as a simple lower back sprain which can be associated with an overload or mechanical loading incident; or a ‘pain flare’ associated with lifestyle stresses.
There is more & more evidence which show that factors such as sleep disturbance, sustained high stress levels, anxiety and depressed moods can influence LBP. In fact only 1 to 2% of people who present with LBP have a serious or systemic disorders, such an inflammatory disorder, infection, spinal malignancy or spinal fracture.
Your back is like any other joint within your body. The only major difference is that your back has joints that are arranged on multiple levels starting from your pelvis at its base and finishing at the back of your head. And as with any other of your body’s joints, they were designed to move, moreover the joints of the back want to be moved!
In essence your head is the main driving force of upper back and shoulder movements, while the lower backs movement is driven by the pelvis. As with other joints which may have incurred a soft tissue injury, when you move you may feel pain. The brain can focus on this back pain which causes you to feel as though you are continually damaging your backs structures, but this is just not true.
Remember, pain on movement does not mean that you are doing yourself more harm.
In fact the key is to normalise your back movements as soon as possible, using the following tips;
Relaxation & deep breathing techniques to relax your trunk muscles
Gentle mobilising exercises to move the hips & lower back – ‘Motion is Lotion’
Try not to guard yourself when moving or attempting to complete a simple task such as picking up a small object, or placing an object high above your head. Holding your breath in such simple tasks will encourage the trunk muscles to engage, and will not allow the spine to move through its normal ranges of movements.
People with non-specific LBP more commonly have increased trunk muscle activity by muscle guarding which stops the spine from normal movements, stiffening the spine; which paradoxically increases spinal loading and increases pain.
Try to undertake daily aerobic exercise that does not exacerbate your pain too much (i.e. walking, swimming, cycling or arm cycling) Start with short periods throughout the day & build up the time by 10% each week, where appropriate.
Your spine is one of the strongest structures in your body, hence the term ‘backbone’. It’s very rare to do permanent damage to your back.
Take Home Messages
- Relaxation will help your back pain settle
- Your back will get stronger with movement
- Protecting your back by avoiding moving it can make your back worse
- Movements may be painful at first – like an ankle sprain – but they will get better as you become more active.
- The brain acts like an amplifier – the more you worry about your back pain the worse it will get.
If you are in any doubt about your back pains, contact your local GP or book in for a 15 minute ‘Injury Check Up’ only £20, here at Pea Green Physio with one of our Physios or Sports Therapists.
Give us a call here at Pea Green Physio: 01869241411 or email [email protected] and with your help we can get you back on track, and doing the things that you want to do in life!
Clive Wincott – Physiotherapist
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