How can osteopathy help with upper and lower back pain relief?
If you suffer with a sore back or back pain, you’re not alone. Most people at some stage in their life regardless of age and fitness level will experience some form of back pain. Many cases of acute upper and lower back pain are the result of poor function or movement. This means with the right treatment, such as osteopathy and a few lifestyle changes, you can find relief from many muscular or soft tissue conditions in a matter of weeks.
Good spinal health plays an essential role in your overall health and well-being. Anyone who has suffered with a bout of back pain knows the impact on your mind and body. It can really dampen your day. Your spine is a complex and flexible structure of bones, muscles, ligaments tendons, and nerves. It carries the bulk of your weight and plays an essential role in protecting the nervous and circulatory systems that run down your spinal cord. Your back and spine are sensitive to irritation. With some exceptions like spinal cord trauma, many conditions are not serious but the pain can be debilitating. Wear and tear can also lead to chronic pain, particularly as we age. Taking care of your spine and back is important at any age. By maintaining its strength and flexibility, you’re spine will be equipped to cope with the daily strain you place on it and less vulnerable to chronic and acute back pain conditions.
What are the common symptoms associated with back pain you should see an osteopath for?
Back pain tends to present in one of two forms:
• Acute back pain – tends to come on suddenly and is commonly experienced with muscular strain or injury. It’s likely to last a few days or weeks.
• Chronic back pain – often experienced with degenerative conditions involving the discs, bones or joints and may go on for months.
Back pain can present in several ways:
- A sharp pinch or shooting sensation that comes on as you move into a certain position.
- A dull (painful) constant ache that may radiate in a particular area, or refer pain to other areas.
- A sharp nerve pain that tends to occur in one area but can often radiate down the closest limb.
- A feeling of weakness or a sense that your back may “give way” is common across the lower part of the back.
- A general sense that your upper body feels jammed up or out of alignment
It is uncommon for these symptoms to be the sign of a more serious health condition. If you experience other general health symptoms, incontinence or numbness, or your back pain has come on suddenly after a forceful accident, you should seek medical advice immediately.
What can trigger upper or lower back pain?
- Sudden falls or accidents, which involve force or an obscure movement of the spine.
- Poor posture particularly in a seated position and for long periods.
- Bending and lifting without supporting the spine correctly.
- Referred pain from neck and shoulder injury
- Sporting activity that involves twisting, impact or repetition.
- Periods of prolonged rest, inactivity and sleeping position.
Common back pain conditions we treat at our Camberwell clinic.
Clients who visit our Camberwell osteopathy clinic differ considerably in age, lifestyle and fitness level. Many visit the clinic seeking treatment for back pain in its various forms. Lower back pain, also known as Lumbago is usually a sign of strained muscles or ligaments and responds well to osteopathy. Our clients spend a great deal of time sitting at their desks or in their cars and poor posture over a long period of time will lead to back pain. We provide relief to patients suffering with sciatica nerve pain or tightness in the piriformis muscle, which may affect the adjacent sciatic nerve. Osteopathy is also helpful to patients who experience pain or discomfort associated with non-surgical scoliosis, also known as curvature of the spine. Kyphosis is another condition treated at our clinic. This condition can be brought on by osteoporosis or degenerative conditions such as spinal arthritis or disc damage and vertebral fracture. For many clients with chronic conditions, osteopathy forms part of their spinal health maintenance in conjunction with complementary lifestyle factors.
Our approach to treating and relieving your back pain?
As with all conditions, we take very personalised approach to treatment. Our first task is to conduct a physical assessment to determine exactly what is causing your back pain. Osteopathy is a gentle, hands on treatment for back pain. Osteopathy uses a variety of techniques to alleviate muscle and tendon tension. We will match the pressure of massage and muscle manipulation to your pain tolerance. Our aim is to get you and your back, on the road to recovery, enjoying the activities you love doing without discomfort. Together we’ll look at your lifestyle factors and identify the potential activities or triggers for your back pain and work out a comprehensive recovery plan, including appropriate exercises you can do at home in between osteopathy appointments.
What can you do in between osteopathy appointments to help relieve your back pain and aid in recovery?
Should you apply ice or heat to your back?
Cool therapy is the method of choice for recent minor back injuries or muscle strains. Applying an ice pack (according to instruction) within the first 24-72 hours, for up to 20 mins can help to relieve pain, swelling and inflammation. For back aches or pain where there is no obvious bruising or swelling, many clients find heat therapy helpful to relax the back muscles. Heat packs can be applied 72 hours after initial symptoms.
Rest versus activity.
Supporting your spine and maintaining good spinal health through good posture and a healthy lifestyle is something we need to be conscious of all the time, not only when pain strikes. Gentle activity can restore blood flow to the area, but remember returning to activity too quickly without giving your spine or back muscles time to rest can seriously hinder your recovery. Pain is an important guide to understanding what your limit is. By speaking to your osteopath, we can advise you on the types of activity to help successfully rehabilitate your back strain or injury.
Gentle stretching to help with upper and lower back pain
Improving your core strength through exercise and daily spinal stretching are great ways to improve and maintain your overall spinal health. In addition to this, it’s always important to take care and support your back when lifting or moving heavy items. Remember to brace your core and bend your knees.
Stretching out your spine can help release stiffness and can help prevent future back strain or injury. If you find the muscles are too tense and simply don’t want to release, this is when you’ll find treatment beneficial. Osteopathy helps to relax the muscles and ligaments surrounding the spine. This helps to restore movement and makes it easier and less painful to stretch.
Proper stretching technique is essential to ensuring you get the maximum benefit. Be sure to seek advice on which stretches are best for your back condition and how to do them correctly.
Watch Geoffrey, our osteopath demonstrate simple stretches you can do at home to help maintain a healthy spine.