What is back pain?
Back pain results from a combination of reasons based around poor or sustained posture, a lack of regular exercise, stress, illness, or sports injury. In the back there are a combination of muscles, ligaments, discs, nerves and blood vessels and any one of these structures can become strained or overloaded, resulting in lower back pain.
Sometimes discomfort may develop immediately after lifting something heavy, or after an awkward twisting movement, equally pain can appear for no apparent reason. The back can often react like a sprained ankle after a quick unexpected movement. This will then have a reflex action where muscles respond by contracting quickly to protect you. The muscles then become painful because there is reduced blood flow, and toxins such as lactic acid build up resulting in swelling, and often restricted and painful movement. Like the ankle, all of these structures can heal with treatment, usually over a period of 6-12 weeks. Occasionally after a period of treatment some symptoms can remain, stiffness, tightness, weakness and discomfort requiring further treatment.
Other types of back pain include nerve root pain, often called sciatica. This type of back pain is less common and by definition means that a nerve coming out from the spinal cord is irritated or compressed by a joint or disc. Varying levels of discomfort are felt along the course of the nerve, often down the leg and sometimes as far as the calf and foot. Symptoms such as numbness, pins and needles and weakness can be felt.
How we treat Back Pain at Richmond Osteopaths
During the natural healing time (6-12 weeks) we treat back symptoms most frequently by mobilising the joints, stretching and massaging the muscles and ligaments. Deep tissue massage helps improve the movement of joints and muscles in order for healing to occur. Exercises are suggested in order to help maintain the movement. After the treatment period more progressive and challenging exercises are given to further mobilise and strengthen the back.
Rest initially, this means take it easy for a day or two. Apply ice immediately, even if this doesn’t make you feel any better straight away. Try to keep moving, such as walking around and fidgeting. Don’t be afraid of painful movements but listen to your body. Get some treatment and advice.