Back pain, particularly in the lower back, is an extremely common problem across the world. With as many as 8 out of 10 of us suffering from back pain at some point in our lives, it’s not surprising that it is one of the most common reasons for lost working days.
Back pain is a complaint that can affect anyone, regardless of their age or gender. It can be extremely painful and in some cases debilitating, preventing us from being able to operate normally, sometimes leading to great inconvenience.
In many cases, back pain results from strains or sprains in the muscles, ligaments or joints of the back, or damage to the discs. This could be caused by an accident, by lifting heavy items, lifting with poor technique, or by moving awkwardly. General wear and tear and osteoarthritis can also be causes.
Whilst back pain is regularly brought on by being active, problems such as a sedentary lifestyle, poor posture, being overweight, stress, depression, and poor lifestyle habits can also be major factors resulting in back pain.
Symptoms of back pain
Symptoms of back pain can be very varied, particularly as it can be located anywhere in the spine, from the pelvis, up to the top of the neck. Sufferers may experience stiffness and tenderness, mild, or severe pain. Back pain can appear gradually or may come on very suddenly.
In some cases, pressure from the back may impact on the nerves, which can be very painful, or cause pins and needles and/or numbness in the limbs.
Seeing an Osteopath for back pain
Osteopaths regularly treat patients experiencing back pain problems, many of whom benefit from treatment.
Osteopaths focus on the entire body, working to ensure all elements of the musculoskeletal system (bones, muscles and joints) function properly together, in a state of balance or equilibrium. When you visit an osteopath for the first time, during your first appointment, they will talk to you in detail about your back pain, but also your health in general and your medical history, before examining you.
In order to look at your body in relation to the back pain you are experiencing, and to be able to find the source of the problem, an osteopath will likely feel around your tissues, joints and ligaments with their hands, as well as observing you as you make some stretches or movements. Before they go ahead with any treatment plan, an osteopath will talk through what they found in their examination and explain the treatment they recommend.
Treatment techniques may include:
- Massage and manipulation – Osteopaths use manual techniques, applying pressure to the soft tissues of your back to help release tension and relieve pain. Myofascial release is a form of massage that can help to release tension and tightness in your muscles. Manipulations differ from massage in that the osteopath’s movements may be a faster, more thrusting action at a particular point of your spine.
- Muscle energy and functional technique – Muscle energy technique is where your osteopath may apply force whilst you push back against them, helping to increase the range of motion in a joint. With function techniques, the osteopath will gently move your joints to help reduce tension and pain, before gently moving them back to the original position.
- Counterstrain – This where an osteopath gradually moves you into a position where you feel least pain, before holding you there to monitor tender points of movements, areas that may be causing you pain.
Osteopaths may also offer advice for lifestyle changes such as improving your posture and exercises that you can do to help relieve your back pain.
Osteopathic techniques can help to improve the function of your back and body as a whole and relieve pain, helping you to be more mobile and continue with normal activities such as going to work. The best thing for back pain is to be active, rather than resting.
To find out more about osteopathy for back pain, you can call Solihull Osteopathic Practice on 0121 705 4499.