Physiotherapy has proven to be a viable treatment in tackling chronic lower back pain. Through an individual’s lifetime, the spine undergoes varying degrees of stress. It is not surprising, then, that up to 85% of people will experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime.
What causes lower back pain?
Common causes of lower back pain include a pinched sciatic nerve, a herniated disc, bone fractures due to conditions such as osteoporosis, muscle strains, muscle spasms, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, and spondylolisthesis.
The spine is comprised of 33 individual bones called vertebrae. In between each vertebra are discs. These discs act as shock absorbers and prevent bone-on-bone contact. As we age, the shock-absorbing discs can become worn down and lose their cushioning abilities. Wear and tear of the discs can cause them to bulge leading to what is called a herniated disc. Consequently, the discs can compress on neural pathways, more specifically the sciatic nerve, causing radiating pain down the buttocks and legs.
A herniated disc is not the only cause of sciatic nerve pain. The piriformis, a small yet sometimes problematic muscle located deep in the buttocks, can spasm compressing down on the sciatic nerve. Often caused by long periods of sitting or running, the compression produces similar symptoms to that associated with a herniated disc.
Other conditions, such as spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, also can cause lower back pain. Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebra slips forward. The anatomical changes in relation to spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis can squeeze certain neural pathways causing back pain. Scoliosis, on the other hand, is an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine. The curve, if left untreated, may cause additional stress on the bones, spinal discs, muscles, and joints producing pain in the lower back region.
How can physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapy can provide immediate relief, as well as education on how to prevent recurrence. At Aquafit Physiotherapy, we aim to get you back to optimal functioning by reducing your pain, and improving your mobility and strength. Our therapists focus on the relief of pain and reducing inflammation via stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as with manual therapy.
Manual therapy for low back pain often involves massages, stretches, and spinal decompression techniques. Massage can increase blood flow to the area reducing inflammation. Stretching techniques can reduce tightness and spasms of surrounding or aggravated muscles, such as the piriformis. Further, spinal decompression counteracts gravity’s impact on the body. It creates space between the vertebrae and reduces the pressure on the spine.
Core and postural strengthening exercises and flexibility exercises are often prescribed for individuals suffering from low back pain. Gaining and increasing core strength can relieve some of the stress placed on the lower spine. Postural exercises can correct deficiencies in alignment that may have been contributing to the pain. Flexibility exercises can further help regain range of motion. Your therapist will conduct tests during your initial assessment to determine strengths and weaknesses. They will then prescribe exercises accordingly.
At Aquafit Physiotherapy, innovative hydrotherapy pools are available to further facilitate the recovery process. The buoyancy enables patients to gain strength and stretch free of pain. If you suffer from lower back pain, contact Aquafit Physiotherapy. Our therapists can begin your road to recovery starting today.