What is the best treatment for back pain?
To know more about steps you can take to prevent or reduce back pain at home, head to our blog- 10 ways to manage back pain at home
Note that in order to receive long-term, cause specific care for back pain, visiting a doctor or physiotherapist is necessary. A doctor might prescribe medications to relive acute symptoms and ask for an x-ray or scan to diagnose the root cause of back pain. A referral to a physiotherapist will be made in order to start exercises and pain-relief modalities to relieve back pain and other associated symptoms.
A physiotherapist uses modalities like TENS, IFT, or hot packs to relax the muscles of the back and reduce pain in the deep tissues. Alternative treatments used when the previous modalities become ineffective are dry needling, cupping, manual therapy or deep tissue massage. Once pain is under control, exercises to maintain mobility and improve muscle function are started.
Symptoms of Lower Back Pain
When you first start to develop postural back pain, it manifests itself as a low-grade ache normally combined with stiffness in your lower back. Symptoms tend to be relieved with light exercise or by avoiding long periods of sitting, for example at weekends. But if symptoms are ignored, the pain will become constant, just to varying degrees. The level of stiffness may also increase.
Occasionally symptoms may be related to conditions other than poor posture, for example, prolapsed disc, fracture, facet joint impingement or nerve root compression. You may experience any of the following symptoms:
- Pins and needles or numbness in the buttocks, lower limbs or feet
- Pain going down the back or front of your leg
- More severe back pain, especially when bending forward
- Excessive levels of stiffness in your lower back
These symptoms need to be properly assessed by an experienced Physiotherapist. They will diagnose the cause of your back pain and provide appropriate treatment, management and advice.
A very small percentage of back pain can be caused by more serious conditions like cauda equina, where the nerves at the bottom of your spinal cord are being compressed.
If anyone of the following symptoms are experiences, an immediate medical advice should be taken:
- Unsteady when standing or walking
- Difficulties passing or controlling bladder or bowels or numbness in either area
- If you have a previous history of cancer or osteoporosis
- Back pain accompanied by unexplained weight loss or fever
What Causes Back Pain?
Back pain can be caused by a range of different conditions. The most common causes are:
- Muscle spasms: sudden pain in the neck or low back due to a jerky movement or while lifting a heavy object often causes muscles to tense up and become irritated, leading to pain in that area
- Nerve compression: Degenerative changes in the spine can cause compression of the surrounding nerves leading to pain, numbness, or tingling that may extend to the back of the thigh and leg.
- Osteoporosis: Reduction in bone density with ageing can cause back pain with or without the occurrence of compression fractures within the vertebrae
- Prolapsed interverterbral disk or slip disk: Degenerative changes or incorrect lifting techniques can cause the contents of the disk between 2 vertebrae to be pushed out and compress the surrounding structures leading to back pain and spasm