Back pain is the most common complaint seen by Chiropractors and Physiotherapists, with 80% of people suffering back pain at some stage of their life. Back pain is multi-factorial, meaning it has many causes such as strains/sprains to joints and muscles and nerve problems such as sciatica. Many low back problems are caused by what is called “recurrent micro trauma,”which means small repetitive injuries, until the proverbial “last straw.” This is why people hurt themselves doing very different, often trivial things. Once the injury has occurred the nerve signals danger, resulting in the surrounding muscles going into spasm to protect the back from further trauma.
Chiropractors and Physiotherapists are experts at treating back pain, trapped nerves, muscle spasms and back stiffness. They use a hands on approach to ease symptoms, improve movement and reduce pain as well as some gentle exercises to move and strengthen your back.
Often patients will come to see us for a wide variety of symptoms. Many of our patients bend awkwardly and feel their back go into spasm, some of our patients have had back pain or nerve pain for years and many of our patients have pain which they feel isn’t serious but that they would rather be without. If you are worried about a pain then please get in contact to see if we can help.
The most common type of back pain is an acute sprain/strain. This means there is an injury to the muscles (strain) and ligaments (sprain) in the back. These type of injures are often caused by lifting or bending, or with trauma such as during exercise or an accident. But sometimes the injury can be much more subtle and symptoms are noticed much slower.
The pain is most commonly in the small of the back, and into the top of the buttocks, pain can occasionally radiate into the back or front of the legs. The pain is a dull ache and stiffness most of the time but is made worse or sharper on movement. With proper care and treatment of mobilisation and manipulation plus exercises most acute strains will last about 1-2 weeks, with full relief with in 4-5 weeks although this can take longer dependant on each individual.
Disc Injury or “Slipped Disc” or herniated disc
Another common type of back pain is the herniated disc or as its frequently known ‘slipped disc’.
Between each bone in your spine, there is a shock absorber known as a intervetebral disc, it is made up of a jelly like material surrounded by a strong ring of cartilage, it serves to absorb the daily shock that goes though your spine, protecting the bones and nerves. Certain situations such as trauma, wear and tear, lifting injuries can cause this strong cartilage to tear, allowing the disc material to leak out or “herniate”. (The term slipped disc is not accurate, as the majority of the disc material is held in place and cannot actually ‘slip’) This material can press on the nerves that come out of the spine travelling down into the legs, and cause what is frequently know as, “Sciatica”.
The pain of the injury comes from two places, the pain at the site if the injury and nerve symptoms in the leg due to pressure on a nerve. The pain in the back is usually severe and sharp in nature, will be aggravated by moving, sitting and straining. The pressure on the nerve will result in pain down the leg and foot, symptoms can include pins and needles, numbness, a feeling of heaviness and or a weakness in the leg and foot. This type of injury is often more severe than the sprain/strain injury mentioned above and takes a lot longer to heal. In roughly 10% of cases surgery may be recommended. Some reduction in pain levels is expected after 2-4 weeks, but full healing time is usually between 2-3 months. Relapse can occur unless a rehabilitation programme and lifestyle changes are adhered too.
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