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Mechanical Lower Back Pain

LBP Male-cropDefinition

  • Mechanical lower back pain is a general term that refers to any type of pain caused by placing abnormal stress and strain on the muscles, ligaments and discs of the spine. It is commonly a result of :
    • incorrect bending and lifting motions
    • poor posture
    • poorly-designed seating
  • The onset of pain can be acute, starting within the last 6 weeks, or chronic, whereby the pain persists on and off for greater than 3 months. Often people with chronic low back pain have experienced it for years.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain in lower back, which may spread to the buttocks or thighs
  • Sciatica (leg pain) may or may not be present
  • Abnormal posture – some people adopt a bent forward position as it lessens their pain, others can develop a side shift due to muscle spasm, and/or a disc or facet joint dysfunction
  • Limited range of motion
  • Pain increases with activity, especially lifting, bending and twisting, and is better with rest
  • Pain that increases with prolonged sitting or standing

Management

  • 80% of people suffer low back pain at some stage of their life.
  • The latest research has proven that strengthening your core stability muscles reduces the risk of reoccurrence of low back pain.
  • Using real time ultrasound, our physiotherapists are specifically trained to teach you how to activate your core stability muscles.
  • Your Physiotherapist at Advantage Healthcare and Physiotherapy has also undergone extensive training to detect your specific movement faults, that can contribute to your pain reoccurring.
  • Your Physiotherapist will conduct a thorough assessment to determine the source and underlying causative factors for your back pain. They will work towards managing your immediate pain and advising you on short and long term considerations. This usually involves self-management advice, postural re-education and core stability exercises.
  • Pilates is a very effective way of ensuring you continue to progressively strengthen your weak muscle groups, thus limiting the likelihood of recurrence.
  • Our physiotherapists will be able to further guide your course of management in cases that are more severe and do not respond adequately to conservative management by liaising with the appropriate healthcare professionals to get you the best possible outcome.

Lumbar Disc Injury

Definition

  • The intervertebral discs are soft pads positioned between each vertebrae (bone) in the spine. The disc consists of outer layers much like the rings on an onion known as the annulus fibrosis and a central component known as the nucleus pulposus. The disc acts as a spacer, shock absorber and part of the cartilaginous joints that allow movement of the spine.
  • Disc injuries can result suddenly or gradually from repetitive strain via lifting, bending or twisting or can be more traumatic in nature. When a disc gets injured the outer annulus fibers become damaged allowing the nucleus of the disc to bulge, protrude or herniate causing inflammation and compression on the surrounding tissues which may include the nerve root.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Central lower back pain, which may radiate into the buttocks and down the leg (sciatica)
  • Numbness, weakness and/or tingling in the leg and foot as a result of nerve root compression may be present
  • Pain with prolonged sitting, bending, lifting and twisting
  • In the acute inflammatory phase you may experience night and morning pain and stiffness
  • In severe cases there may be loss of bowel or bladder control (cauda equina syndrome). If this occurs you must seek urgent medical attention.

Management

  • Minor disc injuries heal within several weeks under the careful guidance of your physiotherapist to manage pain and exercises to centralise the disc bulge.
  • At Advantage Healthcare and Physiotherapy, our physiotherapists are skilled in diagnosis and treatment of both acute and chronic disc injuries. The key to the treatment is getting you out of pain and preventing reoccurrence via core stability and postural re-training.
  • You may require further investigations, depending on your response.

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