Non-specific low back pain can be caused by a number of factors including the sprain or strain of ligament or muscle or disruption to a disc, nerve or joint. It is not always easy to say exactly what is causing the pain and why because the back is a complicated structure and we don’t have x-ray eyes. It is, however, generally far easier to treat the pain and this can be accomplished without ever knowing the exact location that the pain originates from.
Symptoms of low back pain include pain(!) This may manifest itself as an ache, burning and/or stabbing sensation and you may experience pins and needles, shooting pain and/or numbness. Any of these types of pain may come on suddenly, start without warning one morning or just come on gradually. It may occur in a specific point on your back or may radiate over a large area, including into your buttocks and down your leg(s). Pain can be worse upon coughing or sneezing and may be short-lived and gone in a week or persist for longer. You may find that it comes and goes, being bad for a period and then disappearing, only to reoccur again at some point in the future. Your doctor is unlikely to send you for any tests such as x-rays or imaging unless they feel there is a more serious underlying problem. Very often the causes of non-specific back pain do not show up in tests anyway.
So what’s the treatment for this non-specific pain? Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication can help to relieve discomfort and reduce inflammation. You may find that heat in the form of heat packs, wheat bags or just a hot bath or shower helps. Massage and physiotherapy can help to identify the cause and/or location of the problem and a treatment plan can be devised. This may include massage of the muscle concerned and any surrounding ones that may be adding to the problem, mobilisations and manipulations (movements performed on you by the therapist), posture assessment, addressing muscle imbalances, advice, stretches and strengthening exercises and more. It is important that you continue with your normal activities as far as possible, though don’t do anything that causes too much pain. It is also important that you don’t adopt the old-fashioned ‘bed rest’ as a cure as it’s now known that this is one of the worst things that you can do. A simple assessment and treatment that you can do yourself is of your posture. For example, does your job involve you sitting down for long periods of time? Is your desk and chair set up accordingly? Does your chair have adequate lumbar support? Is your screen/keyboard too far away or too close? The same goes for standing, lifting, bending and other such activities – are you doing them in the best possible way to avoid unnecessary strain on your back? The list is endless, try a few things out and see what difference they make.
If you are suffering from low back pain and would like to do something about it then give me a call or drop me an email at Calder Massage and we can start getting you back to normal today.