Back pain is so common that many of us will experience it. But if professional advice is sought quickly it can be remedied, explains expert Jane Connolly of Whalley Physio

How many of us have woken with back pain, either in the back and buttock or radiating down the leg, which gets worse on sitting, bending forwards or even coughing? If the nerves are irritated you may feel numbness and/or tingling or a referred pain that’s felt in the leg without actually being felt in the back. How many of us have been treated for a hamstring strain that hasn’t improved with rest and stretching?

In truth, low back pain is so common that eight out of 10 people experience it at some time in their lives. It may feel severe, but in most cases it’s not due to a serious problem and Physiotherapy can help.

An assessment, diagnosis and early treatment is key even if the pain is severe. A thorough examination and understanding of the relevant mechanics of injury and associated anatomy means that a Physiotherapist can effectively tailor the treatment specifically for your problem. The sooner you get advice the better the outcome before the body has chance to adapt to and maintain the pain cycle. Treatment that focuses on exercise, mechanics and posture improves symptoms quickly and reduces the chance of recurrence.

Based on the outcome of the examination, treatment in the acute phase is often advice on what and what not to do to get things to settle. Back pain will never go if you keep aggravating it. Physiotherapists skilled in manual therapy use hands-on techniques to mobilise and reduce pain and stiffness in joints and massage muscles around the spine. As the pain allows, Physiotherapists will advise on exercises which acknowledge the non-aggravating movement patterns and work to restore movement and function.

If the problem is chronic it maybe that a managed programme of progressive strengthening exercises are the way forwards. These exercises focus on strengthening the muscles around the back, core and pelvis whilst improving the movement in the joints and maintaining the correct muscle length relationship in the muscle groups.

Is it worth seeking treatment – or will it just go in time? Undoubtably the symptoms may reduce in time but the underlying cause often doesn’t get fixed and the same problem reoccurs or you end up compensating and causing problems elsewhere. A detailed assessment noting the type of pain, how it occurred, what makes it better or worse will allow the Physiotherapist to prescribe the right treatment option for you, the individual.



Tedd Walmsley

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