Back pain is a very common problem and can affect anyone at any age. It can often be the result of a sprain or a strain of the structures of the back such as the muscles, ligaments, joints or damage to the discs. Osteoarthritis or wear and tear in the back can also be a reason.
If back pain is coming from an underlying disease, we are trained to recognise red flag symptoms and signs, and will quickly refer you to your doctor.
Back pain is not usually serious and can often resolve itself without intervention within a few weeks. However, it can be painful and inconvenient and many people seek osteopathic treatment to address it quickly and help to prevent the back pain from becoming a chronic, long-term condition.
Back pain can be caused by lifting, moving awkwardly or by an accident. Sometimes it can come on without any specific injury to your back. Stress, depression, posture, being overweight, sedentary living and poor lifestyle habits can all be significant factors.
People feel a range of symptoms such as stiffness, aching or a sharp, catching pain that can be mild or very severe. The pain can come on quite suddenly or over time, and be located anywhere in the spine from the top of the neck to the pelvis. Sometimes pressure on the nerves in your back can cause pain or pins and needles and numbness in the legs and arms.
X-rays, scans and other tests are sometimes required to make a diagnosis. If osteopathic treatment does not lead to complete recovery or we suspect a different cause of the back pain, we may refer you to your GP or a specialist for additional investigation.
How Osteopathy can help with back pain
We use a wide range of gentle manual techniques in order to reduce pain, stretch tight muscles and improve the mobility of stiff joints. The techniques we use will be determined by your age, fitness and diagnosis. We will often use gentle massage to the soft tissues of your back or rhythmically “rock” the joints to release tension and sometimes we may gently manipulate the back to loosen the joints and you may hear a “click”
Treatment is different in every individual and sometimes it might involve treating other areas in the body such as the neck, shoulders or hips.
We may offer advice on your lifestyle particularly if we feel something you are doing is contributing to the problem. We may offer advice on your posture and give advice on diet and exercise or give you specific exercises.
There is good quality evidence supporting the beneficial effects of manipulation for back pain and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence NICE recommends osteopathy for sub-acute and chronic low back pain
Some of the back conditions osteopaths treat are:
- Acute back pain
- Chronic back pain
- Some Disc problems
- Mechanical back pain
- Ankylosing spondylitis
Links to websites…
Arthritis Research UK
National Osteoporosis Society