Physio Well-th provides care for back pain sufferers from the surrounding areas of Keilor Downs, Keilor, East Keilor, St. Albans, Delahey, Kings Park, Taylors Lakes, Sydenham, Melton, Taylors Hill, Caroline Springs, Burnside, Tenterfield, Cairnlea, Kealba and Deer Park, as well as the wider areas.
Back pain is one of the most common injuries that patients suffer. Reports suggest that 8 in 10 people will suffer some form of back pain at least once in their lifetime.
Back pain can affect the upper spine (neck-cervical and upper thoracic areas), mid back (thoracic regions), extend out to the ribs and most commonly affect the lower back (lumbar spine).
Patients commonly present to our physiotherapy clinic with either acute pain or chronic long standing pain. Acute pain is when the pain has just occurred recently. This can be due to poor lifting techniques, causing immediate pain, or commonly patients wake up with a sharp pain, and many times find it hard to pin point an actual reason or cause.
Most of the time acute pain is a warning sign of something seriously going wrong with the back. On many occasions, the musculoskeletal system (the joints, muscles, ligaments, discs, nerves etc) of the spine has been under constant pressure for a while (due to numerous reasons such as poor control, tightness, poor posture, weakness etc) and it was just a time bomb waiting to happen.
Imagine a nice flexible elastic band which is on some sort of tension for a long time. The band will be able to stay strong and flexible for a certain amount of time, until suddenly at one point…BANG..it snaps or it loses its strength and elasticity and just becomes weak and floppy! The body and all tissues of the body are the same! There is only so much tension/pressure that parts of the back can take over years, before you get an episode of acute pain! All you need is a trigger, and many times, it can be something as simple is bending down to do your shoe lace or to pick up a pen, or a simple twisting motion.
Many patients also present suffering with long standing chronic pain, which may have worsened:
Symptoms can vary for each individual, and even though your friend ‘john doe’ had the ‘same’ back pain that healed itself quickly, chances are, your pain and your injury is nothing like ‘john’s’! Everybody is different and every injury is different, and therefore all need individual assessment and treatment!
At the structural level, many things can lead to back pain, these may include:
Osteoarthritis: Degeneration or wear and tear of the cartilage (soft shock absorber material) that lines your joints of your spine. Can result in bone on bone rubbing and cause inflammation and pain.
Osteoporosis: Decrease bone density of your bones. Commonly diagnosed after your doctor orders special bone density scans of your back. This can generally cause stress fractures in peoples spines. Patients find that they have become shorter in height over the years and start stooping or develop a curved spine.
Sciatica: Common problem where the sciatic nerve (major nerve which exits from your spine at levels L4, L5 and S1) is compressed or impinged. It can be impinged by various things such as a disc protrusion, chemicals released from inflammation, tight joints, tight muscles, decreased joint space for your nerves to exit the spine. It can cause various types of pain including pain or pins and needles down the leg or foot.
Intervertebral Disc lesions (disc bulge, ‘slipped disc’, disc protrusion etc): The disc is like a soft yet tough gel like shock absorber. It lies between all your vertebrae of the spine and acts to soften the load on your back. It is made of an outer thicker wall called the annulus fibrosis which envelops the softer gel like substance inside which is made of protein, water and cartilage. Disc strains can vary from the milder form of the annulus wall having a small bulge or tear, to the greater and more severe complete tear of the annulus wall causing all the inside fluid to leak out and into the spine. Can commonly cause severe pain and can pinch nerves such as the sciatic nerve.
Spurs (Osteophytes): Over the years, poor mechanics of the spine lead to increase pressure on joints causing the bone to try to protect itself by growing more small pieces of bone or spurs (osteophytes). These are often associated with osteoarthritis and can make joints stiffer and less flexible which in turn can affect movement and cause pain. They can even press on nerves.
Muscular, ligamentous strains: There are many muscles which support the back. Through overload and pressure, it is very common to get soft tissue strains and sprains. Muscles can be either overworked and tight, too weak or soft, which can all lead to pain and spasm.
Joint Problems: Joints of the spine stiffen up with age or increased pressure. This can lead to mal-alignment of the spine or vertebral dysfunction and cause some joints to stop functioning properly. When this happens, it can lead to more pressure somewhere else and then lead to pain.
Patients have forgotten how to move their backs! Many patients (especially patients with chronic pain) have forgotten how to move properly over the years which has led to weak muscles with no control! This further leads to more pressure and more pain…this cycle of pain just continues! Strengthen the right muscles, learn the correct movements and feel the pain get better!
These are only some of the problems that can happen in the back.
Interesting Fact: Numerous research studies over the years have scanned (Xray, CT, MRI) patients who report NO back pain, and the scans have showed that many people have Osteoarthritis, disc problems and many more!!! What does this mean? This basically means that just because your scan may show a few things, they don’t necessarily have to be the cause of the pain! Many people live with these lesions and never have any pain. Many times, the reason for your pain is multifaceted and does not show on scans!
REMEMBER: many times people have more than one problem! Just to complicate things a bit more for all involved!
Your physiotherapist here at Physio Well-th has extensive experience in assessing and treating your body individually. No generic recipes are given here. A thorough assessment and tests are performed to find what caused your back pain in the first place. Once we know various possibilities and causes then various treatments are trialled to help get the best results (see treatment section)
With correct proactive treatment and with a solid treatment plan created by our physiotherapist, most acute episodes can improve within 6 weeks. But some can continue to become chronic depending on the problem. That is why it is better to get treatment for your back as soon as possible. Unfortunately some doctors simply advise patients on rest and pain killers. Some even say the pain is in your head! However, if you are proactive and seek treatment early, chances are you can get better quicker! Some people have had pain for years, but once taught a few things, can get much better and reverse years of their life!
Visit our clinic now and let us help you get better and stay better by finding the cause of your back pain problem. Remember… the question is always…what has led to your back pain??