Lower back pain is extremely common with around 80% of people affected at some stage of their lives.
It is defined as pain and discomfort below the costal margin (the ribs) and above the gluteal folds (your bottom), with or without leg pain.
The most common form is classified as non-specific low back pain, which cannot be attributed to a recognisable known specific pathology (no specific structural cause). Other forms are disc injuries, facet joint and ligament injuries and muscle injuries.
Pain down your leg that stems from the lower back is called sciatica.This is not a strict sign that your back pain is necessarily structurally any worse.
How does it occur?
Low back pain has many causes. It can be caused by muscular strains, ligament sprains and joint dysfunction. This includes herniated or bulged discs and facet joint irritation.
These injuries can occur due to trauma eg. bending awkwardly to lift something heavy or during sport. However, more often than not, it is due to sustained overstress injuries and lack of movement.
Chronic low back pain occurs when your symptoms last longer than 3 months.
It may surprise you to know that following 3 months, the structures in your back are well healed, though the remaining pain can be due to sensitised nerves and over-protective muscle activity, or conversely, poor functioning muscles. This is where seeing a Melbourne Low Back Pain Physiotherapist can help immensely!
Signs and symptoms of lower back pain.
Leg pain/ numbness / pins & needles
Do you need scans?
More often that not scans & X-rays are not necessary.
Physical changes seen on scans do not necessarily correlate with symptoms or function. In the absence of progressive neurological deficits or other unusual symptoms there is very strong evidence to avoid any imaging for low back pain.
It simply doesn't provide much information that will change treatment or management. If you are not recovering within the expected time frame ,and your physiotherapist is concerned, they can then advise you if imaging is needed.
What should you do about it?
Firstly do not stress! Low back pain is extremely common and it does get better.
Evidence suggests keeping active and continuing with normal activities leads to quicker recovery.
Seek advice and assessment from a local low back pain physiotherapist.
Your physiotherapist can prescribe specific exercises and give you the best advice to speed your recovery. They can also provide manual therapy, when it is implicated, and guide you on your return to sport and full function.
To make a booking to see your local Melbourne lower back pain physiotherapist for treatment of your low back pain, please call your local Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy clinic or book online.