Back pain is the most common injury seen in Physiotherapy clinics. It is estimated that over 80% of adults report lower back pain each year, and that as a result, 8.9 million working days per year are lost. It is now the leading cause of long term disability in the UK.
Back pain is generally a symptom of something else that is underlying. Usually, this is a ‘mechanical’ issue, such as an incorrect movement pattern, but it could also be down to degenerative changes, inflammation and muscle strains. The good news is that it is almost always successfully treated with Physiotherapy.
As Physiotherapists, we take a deep look as to why you are in pain, whether that be a movement issue or something else. Once we have found out what exactly is causing your pain, we can formulate a treatment plan to fix the problem.
Treatment for back pain varies, depending on the underlying cause of the pain. Conservatively, exercise has been shown to be highly effective to long term back pain management. Below, you can see a video of the top exercises to try for lower back pain!
If exercises do not help, or you are in too much pain to try them, other treatment options to try include Physiotherapy, dry needling, IMS (Intra-muscular stimulation) and deep soft tissue release.
Ultimately, it is all about trying to normalise your spinal movement to relieve pressure and pain. Correct movement patterns are essential for the long term relief of back pain.
Read on to find out more about some of the things we can do as Physiotherapists to help!
IMS (Intra-Muscular Stimulation) is a specialist technique used for the treatment of spinal pain. It is a form of dry needling, which is equivalent to a Western style of Acupuncture.
When you have back pain, it is usually because each individual joint is not moving segmentally, as discussed above. In between each vertebra you have small, stabilising muscles. These muscles go into spasm during back pain, making it very difficult for the joints to move individually.
IMS targets these specific muscles to release them, as well as increasing the blood flow to the exact area, which promotes a healing response.
When these muscles have been released, it allows you to move the individual joints segmentally again – thus reducing the pressure in the lower back – and consequently the pain you have been experiencing.
This highly specialised technique is only performed by 20-25 practitioners across the country.
It is a popular treatment choice for elite sports stars, including the Saracens Rugby Team, the European Tour Golf and Anthony Joshua.
Deep Soft Tissue Release is an option for fast back pain relief. This can come in many forms, including sports massage, active release or myofascial release.
However, our technique of choice for deep soft tissue release is percussive therapy – otherwise known as vibration. This is a rapidly growing treatment technique, made popular by brands such as Theragun.
In the video above, you can see us using Theragun to treat back pain. Percussive therapy works by reducing muscle sensitivity, increasing deep blood flow and eliminating adhesions on the muscles. It is a comfortable treatment technique with immediate improvement.
Percussive therapy has been used by Physiotherapists for a long time, as it has well researched benefits. It also became a popular modality in the fitness world with PowerPlate exercises.
Whilst previously reserved for professional athletes (routinely used by Olympians, Crossfit World Champions and NFL teams), this treatment modaility is becoming much more accessible with cost effective options being produced for home use.
There are many other forms of treatment for lower back pain, including strength and conditioning, Pilates and (as strange as it seems) psychological interventions. There is a large correlation between a persons mental state and long term pain. This is why as Physiotherapists, we now treat using the ‘Bio-Psycho-Social Model’ – which takes into account sleep, stress, anxiety, family, job and social life – among other things.
All of these things can impact lower back pain and the responsiveness to treatment.
All in all, Lower Back Pain is something that can be very effectively treated. You should not have to live in pain.