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The Most Common Causes of Lower Pain and How to Avoid It

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Do you suffer from Pain in your back, does your back hurt getting of bed or a chair or does your back hurt if you stand for too long?

Lower Back Pain (LBP) is one of the most common ailments that people come and see me for advice and treatment.

Research indicates that 80% of the population experience LBP at some point in their life, and of those, 90% deal with repeated episodes for years.

Back pain occurs when nerve endings called pain receptors are triggered either by a chemical or mechanical stimulus.

Back Pain Derived from Chemical Stimuli

A chemical stimulus occurs when tissue is damaged eg. a cut to the skin, a muscle tear, or a bone fracture. The tissue bleeds and releases many other chemicals into the immediate area. You may see a lot of swelling and redness and the skin may feel hot. You may also experience a wide variety of feelings that describe your pain, such as throbbing, burning and aching.

This type of pain is usually constant. By that I mean that you feel it all day, and it may keep you awake at night, and you cannot get relief by changing position.

Back Pain from a Mechanical Stimuli

A mechanical stimulus occurs when tissue is stretched beyond its normal range but not damaged, like your finger bending beyond its normal range.

The 3 Most Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

Lower Back Pain typically occurs following:

1. A specific incident causing injury to the spine or surrounding soft tissue, such as a fall, or muscle strain lifting a heavy object. Patients usually can recall the incident that caused there pain.

2. A non-specific incident. Typically you cannot recall when it started. The LBP may come and go, it may be worse with some activities and better with others, or it may be worse in the morning or after resting and better when walking or playing sport.

3. Referred pain from other internal organs. For example, intestinal diseases, appendicitis, tumors, cancer.

The majority of lower back pain falls into category 2, followed by category 1, and then a very small % in category 3.

How to Determine What Category of Back Pain You Have

A thorough assessment from a physiotherapist will indicate if LBP is being caused by non-musculoskeletal factors (category 3) and the patient will be referred to a Doctor for appropriate treatment. LBP from category 1 is typically from a chemical stimulus.

Initially this is best treated with rest, anti-inflammatory tablets or ice to reduce swelling, and analgesics to reduce the pain. As the pain settles it is important to start moving again, as too much rest can lead to stiffening of surrounding un-injured tissue, loss of muscle strength, and loss of general mobility.

However, it is important to move in the correct way as the wrong movements can re-aggravate the injured tissue, “open the wound”, and start the pain cycle again.

As a simple guide, if you can move more freely and do more activity without pain then continue. If pain persists, even if only minor, then some expert advice from a Physiotherapist will help to prevent your LBP developing into a chronic long term niggle.

LBP from category 2 is mostly due to a mechanical stimulus. The muscles, ligaments, and joints of the spine are placed in a stretched position for too long, causing pain to develop. This can occur typically through poor posture when sitting, lying in bed, or even while working.

Over time the body adapts to this and the back stiffens up, and muscles become tight and weak, often leading to further LBP and pressure on the discs between the vertebrae.

If the discs become damaged then pressure may be placed on the spinal nerves, causing pain referring into the groin, buttocks, or legs. An example of this is Sciatica. Permanent damage may occur if this is not treated correctly.

It is important to stop this process from occurring as quickly as possible by identifying and addressing the cause of your LBP. It may be as simple as improving your posture and becoming more physically active, however, it is important to do the correct exercises for your problem so as not to make your back pain worse.

Tips to prevent lower back pain occurring

  • When sitting maintain the hollow in your lower back by sitting up straight and placing a pillow there for support
  • Regularly get up and move around, especially if you sit a lot for work.
  • Stand and place your hands on your hips and arch backwards as far as you can 10 times, bend side to side 10 times, and rotate your trunk to the left and right 10 times at least twice a day.

If you are unsure what to do, or your LBP is not improving with these simple stretches then it is time to get a more thorough assessment from a Physiotherapist.

Please feel free to call me on 9589 0088 to arrange an appointment.




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