The Benefits of Physiotherapy for Back Pain | Upwell Health
Is back pain ruling your life? Do you have a hard time walking around, bending over, and working out? If so, you’re not alone. This condition is the primary cause of disability worldwide. Fortunately, it can be successfully prevented and treated.
According to a 2016 study, up to 90 percent of Australians will experience lower back pain at some point. Globally, about 80 percent of people have this issue. It’s one of the most common reasons for doctor visits and sick days.
From stretching and strength training to physiotherapy, there are ways to prevent lower back pain. Physical therapy not only eases the pain but also helps improve your posture and mobility. In the long run, it may help reduce the need for NSAIDs and anti-inflammatory drugs.
What Causes Back Pain?
Statistics indicate that lower back pain causes disability in about 10 percent of Australians. This condition affects your quality of life, including your health and ability to work. Its causes are varied, so the treatment needs to be adjusted accordingly.
The low back supports your upper body weight and makes everyday activities possible. It allows you to bend, twist, and rotate your hips while walking. Additionally, the nerves located in this area control your feet, legs, and pelvis. Even the slightest pain or imbalance can affect your mobility.
The pain can range from dull to sharp. It may develop over time, or begin abruptly as a result of an injury or poor lifting form. Obesity, lack of exercise, poor posture, and prolonged sitting are common risk factors for lower back pain.
For instance, when you’re obese, the extra weight puts stress on your spine and joints. This limits your range of motion and may cause pain. Certain health conditions involve nerve compression, affecting the spine and its surrounding tissues.
- Herniated discs
- Vertebral fractures
- Spinal arthritis
- Spinal stenosis
- Skeletal irregularities
- Intervertebral disc degeneration
- Sprains and strains
Sciatica, for example, causes compression of the sciatic nerve. This results in sharp pain, muscle weaknesses, numbness, and limited range of motion. Excessive scoliosis, lordosis, and other skeletal irregularities develop over the years, so the pain comes on gradually. Herniated discs trigger inflammation, chronic pain, and nerve compression.
Sometimes, lower back pain is caused by underlying conditions, such as:
Abdominal aortic aneurysms
The pain may also result in injuries that occur from lifting heavy weights or overstressing the ligaments. Another common cause is aging. As you get older, your spine loses its mobility and come become arthritic.
Physiotherapy addresses both the causes and symptoms of back pain. Most patients experience pain relief after just a few sessions. Depending on your needs, the physiotherapist may recommend an exercise program, massage, or preventive measures.
Risk Factors for Back Pain
Some people are more likely to develop back pain. Besides aging, the primary risk factors include weight gain, pregnancy, genetics, and lack of physical activity. Surprisingly, depression and anxiety contribute to lower back pain but are not the cause. These conditions reduce your pain threshold and cause muscle tension, which may worsen your symptoms.
If your job requires pulling, pushing, or heavy lifting, you may experience back pain at some point. These activities stress the spine and increase injury risk. However, office jobs aren’t better either.
Prolonged sitting is actually a major risk factor for back pain. In the long run, it causes lumbar disc changes, leading to back and neck pain, muscle imbalances, sore shoulders, hip problems, and herniated discs. Sitting for too long also puts you at risk for diabetes, heart disease, and even osteoporosis.
Sports activities may result in back pain. Poor lifting form can lead to spine injuries and slipped discs. These problems are common among athletes and gym goers.
For instance, people who only work out during the weekend after being inactive all week are more likely to develop back pain. In general, they try to compensate for the lack of exercise and push themselves too hard.
The same goes for those who are just starting a training program. Many times, they sacrifice form for volume. This leads to poor lifting form, which in turn, triggers pain.
A skilled sports physiotherapist or exercise physiologist can teach you how to exercise safely, what movements to avoid, and how to strengthen the lower back muscles. They will also recommend the most appropriate treatment for sports injuries and sore muscles.
How Effective Is Physiotherapy for Back Pain?
Physiotherapy has emerged as one of the best ways to prevent and treat back pain. This practice encompasses exercises, joint mobilisation, stretching, massage, dry needling, and other techniques that relieve discomfort.
Receiving physiotherapy after an acute episode of back pain can help prevent complications and reduce the need for doctor visits. The sooner you get treatment, the higher your chances of recovery.
Physiotherapists can also recommend stretching and strengthening exercises that target the back muscles. If you’re in pain, they can perform will manual therapy to ease pain and improve joint mobility.
Many times, massage can make all the difference. This practice, which is widely used in physiotherapy, relaxes the muscles, improves joint flexibility, and relieves tension. The massage techniques used differ in terms of the type of hand movements. The physiotherapist may recommend Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, trigger point massage, mobilization, or manipulation therapy. Physiotherapists will often refer to a remedial massage therapist who is highly skilled in these areas.
These techniques not only relieve pain but also strengthen your muscles and improve mobility. Massage also stimulates blood flow to the affected areas, which helps speed up healing. Moreover, it reduces muscle tension and soreness, which makes it particularly helpful for athletes.
As you see, physiotherapy can treat back pain in more than one way. The techniques used depend on your needs and symptoms. After assessing your condition, the therapist will develop a treatment plan and recommend preventive measures.