Back pain is a very common problem, with 1 in 6 people affected during their Lifetime. It can affect people of all ages, from children to adults. It is one of the top three reasons for visits to doctors and A&E. The cause of back pain may be due to injury or disease.
Injuries can be divided into Acute or Overuse based injuries. They can include sprains, strains, fractures, disc herniation, spinal cord injuries, and other conditions that affect the spine. Diseases that affect the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, discs, nerves, blood vessels, and organs also lead to back pain.
Some diseases, such as arthritis, cancer, infections, and autoimmune disorders can cause back pain. Other reasons for back pain include pregnancy, obesity, and certain medications.
Back pain is usually caused by muscle strain, ligament sprain, or damage to spinal joints or the intervertebral disc. These types of injuries occur when there is a sudden movement of the spine or the load on the body is too much; where a nerve is involved, whether directly or indirectly, the pain is often accompanied by sharp, shooting pains that radiate down into the legs or arms.
A person who has suffered a severe injury to the lower back will have more serious symptoms than someone who has only strained a muscle.
Preventing back pain
There are many ways to prevent back pain.
Do not sit for long periods without getting up and moving around. Our Principal Osteopath, Alan Rowe, strongly recommends against this in particular. Regular body movement throughout the day is key to keeping your back and spine healthy. It is not just about exercise but moving around the home/office, and even some simple quick chair-based movement is of great benefit.
If you are starting a new exercise or going back to one that you have not done for a while, then build up intensity, weight and duration gradually. Having an instructor or personal trainer for the first few sessions can be really beneficial here.
Lifting can lead to pain and injury if you are not lifting correctly. When lifting ensure you engage your muscles, even if something is light. Avoid twisting and ensure you use your whole body with your knees bent. There are many suggested ways of lifting, and your choice will depend on many factors, including what is being lifted, what training you do and any movement restrictions that you may have. If unsure – seek assistance.
How an osteopath can help you manage Back Pain
An Osteopath largely uses manual therapy techniques to treat back pain but can also use Acupuncture, Fascial Taping (Rock Tape), as well as incorporating home care advice and rehabilitation movements and exercises. Manual therapy involves gentle manipulation of the soft tissues and joints of the body. Osteopaths believe that these manipulations stimulate the nervous system and improve circulation, which helps reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Manual therapy techniques used by Osteopaths include joint mobilisation, traction, rocking techniques, stretching and Osteopathic Soft Tissue treatment which can include myofascial release, advanced massage techniques, and trigger point therapy.
Joint mobilisation involves moving a joint to loosen the area up and improve the range of mobility. Traction is a gentle technique that helps gap the joints, gently stretching the muscles and soft tissue surrounding the joints. Rocking helps relax muscles.
Myofascial release involves applying pressure to the fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds muscles). Trigger points are areas where the muscles are tense and painful. Pressure applied to these spots relieves the tension and reduces pain.
All of the above techniques are safe and effective, yet most are quite gentle.
One of the Osteopathic principles (increasingly accepted by the wider medical profession) is that the Body is a Unit and that the parts of the body are interconnected. This means that problems in one area of the body can affect another part of the body. The cause of your pain or contributing factors to the cause or symptoms may be somewhere away from where you feel the pain, or perhaps it is referred or radiates from somewhere else in the body. That is why an Osteopath looks at the whole person rather than just focusing on the specific location of the pain. They treat the patient’s entire body, including the mind and emotions.
This is a key element where we add value as a profession to help you feel and move better without the pain in your back. To achieve this, at your first initial appointment, our Osteopath in Croydon will allow up to 70 minutes with you. This will allow us to listen to your story during the consultation, where we will also ask questions about your back, your medical history and a system check. Your Osteopath will also examine you, and your consultation will allow us to identify the cause of your pain.
Osteopathy is effective in treating back pain for the vast majority of patients that seek our help. Studies show that it works better than conventional medicine for some patients.
If you suffer from acute or chronic back pain, give us a call and let our osteopaths help you. We provide bespoke treatment plans, rehab exercises and access to a comprehensive patient rehab video library to help you get the best outcome.