The lumbar spine is the bottom section of the spine and consists of five vertebrae. Between these vertebrae are structures called discs which act as shock absorbers. There are countless muscles acting on the lumbar spine and a number of strong ligaments which provide the spine with stability. Many of these structures can be involved when you experience acute low back pain.
Injuries can happen when you do something new, different or strenuous, such as lifting heavy items or playing a new sport. The pain may also occur because of a build-up of stress on the back that gradually turns into an injury. Although serious causes of back pain are rare, it is important that you have your condition assessed by a qualified health professional such as a physiotherapist. This is particularly important if your back pain is associated with other symptoms like fever, unexplained weight loss, pins and needles or numbness, or if your pain was caused by a high velocity trauma such as a car or sporting accident.
It is important to consult a physiotherapist as soon as possible to assist with pain relief and improve movement. Physiotherapists are experts in the assessment of musculoskeletal injuries, especially back pain. They will provide a thorough examination to ascertain the structures responsible for your pain. Your physiotherapist will also discuss the treatment options with you.
Some treatment options may include:
- Joint mobilisation & manipulation
- Electrotherapy e.g. ultrasound TENS
- Dry needling
- Muscle energy techniques
- Activity modification advice
- Biomechanical correction
- Ergonomic advice
- Clinical Pilates
- Exercises to improve flexibility, strength, posture and core stability
- Use of a sacroiliac belt or lumbar brace
- Use of a lumbar roll for sitting
- A gradual return to activity program
Treatment of the underlying cause will not only resolve your back pain, but prevent it from coming back again. If you’re suffering from back pain, please don’t delay. The earlier you see a physiotherapist, the quicker they can help get your back pain under control and get you back to work, sport and life.
Stretch of the Month
Single Knee to Chest
- Begin by lying on your back with both knees bent.
- Bring one knee up towards your chest.
- Perform 2-3 repetitions, holding each one for 15-30 seconds.
- You may feel a stretch along the lower back or buttocks area.
- You may also perform this with both legs up towards your chest if it is comfortable.
Change one Bad Habit at a time
You may have a few vices you would like to be rid of, but it is important that you don’t try to break all your bad habits at once. You’re not superhuman and trying to kick a smoking habit, give up chocolate and stop biting your nails all at the same time is probably going to be hard to achieve. Instead, prioritise and pick the habit you most urgently need to change first. Also, try to set a definite goal to work towards rather than a vague “I’m going to stop being so unhealthy”. Identify what exactly it is you need to do (or stop doing) and make that your focus.
Find a solid reason for breaking your habit that really means something to you — such as improving your health, appearance or relationship — and keep your goal in sight. Reminding yourself regularly of the bigger picture and the reasons why you are doing this will help you to carry on and stay strong in moments of weakness.