Lowback pain is one of the most common problems for which people seek Physio management. Nearly every one of us will experience low back pain or injuries at some stage in our lives. The discs of the low back (lumbar spine) are a very common culprit for pain and injury.
What is a disc?
The discs are cartilages which are tough but not as firm as bone. They sit between the bones of the spine which are called the vertebrae. These discs form joints with the bones to allow the bones to move and provide a cushion for shock absorption, hence they must withstand a lot of pressure from all the activities we do with our bodies!
How do disc injuries happen?
No matter what position we are in or what activity we are doing, there is always a level of pressure within the disc. Discs are built to withstand this!
Some actions such as sitting, bending over and twisting are more stressful for the discs than other actions such as lying down in bed. So therefore activities that involve repetitive or prolonged ‘higher stress’ positions are more likely to increase disc stress.
At the same time, the muscles that stabilise and support the spine also must be functioning during activities. Therefore if the muscles are strong enough to tolerate the type, duration and intensity of our activities, there will be less pressure on the discs.
Are you doomed if you have a disc injury?
Research shows that most of us have discs that aren’t perfect on imaging - yet we are totally free of any symptoms!
We commonly have patients who visit us for the first time and are worried their disc injury that has been shown on an X-ray or MRI scan, or influenced by WorkSafe commercials showing an employee snapping something in their low back - which is over-dramatised and absolutely not what happens in reality.
We commonly explain to patients that disc injuries do not spell doom, they will heal and it’s much more practical to focus on retraining the muscular support of the spine rather than whatever an MRI report might say.
Don't rely on the scans for recover, rely on how you are feeling!
Initially, the goal with most patients will be to settle their symptoms to help make their everyday life easier. As the symptoms improve with treatment and exercises, appropriate management includes a strategy to help prevent future low back issues.
Although no injury can be totally avoided in life, it is important to strengthen the lumbar stabilisers and hip muscles to help the spine withstand the physical demands that we place onourselves. This may include a home exercise program or a Physio-supervised group exercise class that is specific for your back and is a great supplement for your own personal exercise/sport.
If you have been experiencing low back disc related pain as described above, and it is not settling over 1-2 weeks, you should seek treatment to get back to a comfortable life, and to reduce the chance of your back pain becoming something longer term.
Usually the shorter the duration of symptoms, the sooner you will get better! Your physiotherapist will assist you to reduce the acute pain as well as identifying the relevant contributing factors to your low back pain and address them with strengthening exercises and functional exercises and a clear load management plan.
At Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy we will have you back doing your sport or hobby as soon as possible!
At Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy our goal is to get you moving pain free as soon as possible.
But, we also want you to actually move better and live a healthier, more active and fulfilling life!
If your sports, fitness training or work has been wearing your body down, book in with one of our expert physiotherapists so we can help you reduce your pain and bullet proof your body so that you can keep playing, training and working forever.
If you are showing some signs of injury or simply want help staying injury-free then book in with one of our highly experienced Physiotherapists today!