Back Pain First Aid – 3 Tips to get your Lower Back back on track

Back Pain First Aid – 3 Tips to get your Lower Back back on track

Low back pain is an extremely common complaint – probably the most common we see as physios. With the latest stats suggesting that up to 70-80% of adults will suffer low back pain at some point in their lives, chances are that either you or someone you know has experienced it in the past.

The good news though is that serious causes of back pain are quite rare, and that most cases do get better – usually within a few weeks. As most people who’ve had back pain will tell you, though, recurrence is pretty common – and this is one way where your physio can help set you up with exercises & strategies to help minimise the risk of recurrence.

But what are some big tips to help manage things when your back is sore?

1. Keep moving

back painKeeping active, within your pain limits, is a key part of getting on top of back pain – and there’s a lot of evidence to show that this is more helpful than stopping everything and resting completely. For sure this might mean doing only doing light stuff initially, but doing what you can do can help get you back on track quicker.

Exercise & activity is even more important to help manage chronic low back pain – which means the longer you’ve had the pain for, the more important getting moving is! By making the back fitter & stronger, we help it cope better with what you need it to do each day.

Setting appropriate exercise is one way that physio can be very helpful to your recovery – we don’t want people to do too little or too much, and your physio can help you find the ‘just right’ amount and type of exercise to help you get moving better, and feeling better.

2. In most cases, scans aren’t needed

As we mentioned before, serious causes of back pain are relatively rare – and most cases fall into the category of ‘non-specific low back pain’, where it’s pretty hard to pinpoint a single structure or bit of anatomy that’s causing pain.

As such, x-rays and scans aren’t needed for the majority of low back pain cases that we see. More often than not they don’t influence your treatment, and in some cases can prove to be a bit of a red herring – just because something shows up on a scan, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s causing pain. A lot of studies have shown that even when we put people with no symptoms at all through an x-ray or scan that it can show so-called ‘abnormalities’ – meaning that there can be a mismatch between pain and pathology.

3. Improvement is bit-by-bit – and it’s important not to freak out by flare-ups

Like anything, we’d love our improvements to be all at once – and in the case of low back pain, for things to go from ‘sore’ to ‘not sore’ straight away. Unfortunately, though, it tends to be a bit more gradual – but so long as things are moving in the right direction, slow & steady wins the race!

It’s important to realise too that little aggravations or flare-ups along the way are normal – and it doesn’t mean that you’ve made things worse. The road to recovery can have a few twists & turns along the way, rather than being a smooth straight path.

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About Mat Prior

Mat Prior is a Sports Physiotherapist at Leading Edge Physical Therapy in Adelaide, South Australia. He has a special interest in running injuries and biomechanics.

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