About 80 per cent of us in the Western world can expect to suffer some form of lower back pain at some point in our lives. But…. If you begin and stick with the right type of program, you can get back on track, avoid a recurrence and in even better news – the vast majority of this can be achieved without surgery or the use of medication.
What’s the diagnosis?
Whilst the specific reasons for having back pain are almost endless – some of the more common causes we see include:
- long periods of inactivity eg: desk job, driving & long haul travel
- repetitive strain (tissue overload) eg: bricklaying, gardening, moving house
- Increasing activity levels too quickly eg: beginning a new exercise program
- Stress and lifestyle factors have also been shown to cause/influence back pain.
You may have heard terms like slipped, bulged or ruptured discs. When in fact, degenerative changes in the body and spine are a normal fact of life and slipped discs by the way are 100% impossible, it can’t happen.
Just like we show signs of ageing on the outside, think grey hair and wrinkles, we can and will also show changes on the inside. Just because these things sometimes show up on an x-ray, doesn’t mean we have pain. Heres a good example from a study – “64 percent of test subjects came back with MRIs that showed disc problems that normally would have marked them as prime candidates for surgery… except, of course, for one little problem… and that was that they did not have back problems at all!”
There’s more to it than what we see on a scan.
Pain is an experience that can be influenced by a variety of factors including tissue pathology, history/previous injury, cognitive beliefs, activity levels, movement capacity, nervous system sensitivity, habits (good and bad) and stress/lifestyle factors. All of these will be addressed in some form in the initial assessment.
What do we do?
Work out why and what.
The assessment is where we start to put together the pieces of why your back hurts and formulate a plan to sort it out.
It is often hard to know the exact cause of lower back pain (barring a specific incident). In fact, back pain is often referred to or diagnosed as non-specific low back pain, very reassuring I know.
We will gather all the available information and use it to understand your pain. A detailed verbal history, a simple but comprehensive movement assessment (not just of your back) and more specific testing if necessary will be conducted. Although you are experiencing back pain, it’s important to step back and observe your body as a whole. As mentioned above – tissue pathology, history and previous injury, cognitive beliefs, activity levels, movement capacity, nervous system sensitivity, habits (good and bad) and stress/lifestyle factors will all be addressed in the initial assessment.
It is rare that we ask for diagnostic imaging of your back. Research suggests that scans can have a detrimental effect and end up costing you more $$ in the long term. If you’ve already had imaging done however, bring your scans with you.
There are generally 2 parts to your back pain treatment at The Musculoskeletal Co. and I’ll borrow a quote from physio and chiropractor Greg Lehman to summarise – “Calm s**t down. Build s**t up”.
It’s also summarised nicely by Louis Gifford in his book book series Aches and Pains – “If your therapist only does a ‘treatment’ to you and misses out the ‘get it moving/ rehab/ graded recovery/ functional recovery process’ – then it’s my opinion that your therapist is a complete waste of time”.
1. Manual Therapy
We have a wide variety of tools and techniques available to us, but it’s more about finding the right tools for your situation than just using them all. What works for one person may not be the right solution for you. We use a variety of techniques and modalities including myofascial release, dry needling, joint mobilisation and kinesio-taping.
We only use these techniques to treat your back pain when they are right to use for you – you’re not left alone on a table paying for a machine or a hot pack from the microwave while we give our time to another patient. It’s important to ask (as a practitioner and client) why a certain technique is being used.
Passive treatment techniques can have a fantastic short term effect of decreasing pain and sensitivity. It’s important to remember however, that any therapist derived treatment technique is going to have a temporary effect; it calms your affected area down, opening a window of opportunity to move without or with less pain. It’s how we take advantage of that opening that makes the lasting change for you.
To read more about the treatment techniques used at The Musculoskeletal Co., CLICK HERE.
We get you moving.
Research shows that movement and/or exercise are the clear front runners when it comes to treating and preventing recurrences of lower back pain. Maybe right now, pain is stopping you from moving – we’ll work with where you are at currently.
Combining the right movements with the right amount of moving is key to getting you back to 100%. Think of it as getting the dose right.
We use barbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, weights, gymnastics rings, footballs and a wide variety of other tools. We have an active approach to improving your health and all components of health related physical fitness. We want to educate, inspire and motivate you to take ownership and accountability for your health and wellbeing. We don’t ‘fix’ you; that’s your job. It’s your body and your health; we’re here to help provide the right environment.
The added bonus though, is that by using movement to influence your pain, you are also creating changes in your body that will last far, far longer than the effects of ANY manual therapy.
To read more about how we get you moving and what that involves, CLICK HERE.
What to do now?
1. Get started! Book an appointment and you’ll be on your way to living without back pain faster than you can say ‘The Musculoskeletal Co.“
2. Book a FREE 15 minute consultation. We understand that finding the right practitioner for you is a personal choice and there is often some confusion about which sort of practitioner to see. This is an opportunity to ‘try before you buy’.