Lower Back Pain

Many people suffer from lower back pain at some point. A large proportion of the population will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives. Lower back pain can be caused by several factors; Mechanical, Injuries, Diseases and less commonly infections or tumors.

Mechanical problems

A mechanical problem is due to the way the spine moves. The principal structures involved are the vertebral and intervertebral discs, ligaments, joints, muscles and nerve roots. Perhaps the most common mechanical cause of back pain is a condition called intervertebral disc degeneration, which simply means that the discs located between the vertebrae of the spine are breaking down with age. As they deteriorate, they lose their cushioning ability. A disc bulge (commonly referred to as slipped disc), can potentially press against or irritate the nerve where it exits from the spine. This nerve impingement can cause back pain, spasms, cramping, numbness, pins and needles, or pain into your legs. Another cause of back pain is the wearing down of the facet joints, which allow the vertebrae to move on each other.

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Spinal Injuries

Spine injuries such as sprains and fractures can cause either short-lived or chronic back pain. Sprains are tears in the ligaments that support the spine and can occur from awkward lifting, sports injuries and motor vehicle accidents. Poor posture when sitting, standing or lifting at work can place unnecessary stress upon your spine. Prolonged sitting, working in a bent forward position and heavy or repeated lifting can all be factors in developing a back problem. Fractured vertebrae are often the result osteoporosis, a condition that causes weak, porous bones. Less commonly, back pain may be caused by more severe injuries that result from accidents and falls.

Physiotherapy can help you overcome an episode of low back pain. The goal of physiotherapy is to restore pain free movement, and importantly to help maintain this improvement over the longer term

Physiotherapists may use a two step approach to treat back pain. They will employ a hand on approach including gentle mobilisation and manipulation, stretching, electrical treatments such as TENS or ultrasound or strapping and support. This may then be followed by physical therapies such as specific exercises and stretches and an exercise program tailored to the individual to address areas such as core strength and posture.

Recovery can take time and can be related to various factors. These include the severity of the problem and also the state of the tissue prior to injury. Other contributing factors can include age, general health, a person’s weight, fitness level and mental health.

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