Low back pain is perhaps the symptoms most commonly seen by Osteopaths, although of course not restricted only to that. Osteopathy is a healthcare system that seeks causation rather than just symptoms, providing treatment to restore health and function. It also promotes healthy and sustainable lifestyle choices to reduce pain recurrence. Treatments are hands-on and often use soft tissue massage techniques and joint articulation to mobilise certain areas of the body.
Osteopathy was developed in the 1870′s by a pioneering American Doctor called Andrew Taylor-Still. Dr. Still realized that the human body has a remarkable ability to recover from dysfunction and disease but on occasion requires ‘intervention’ to direct and promote the recovery process. Osteopathy predates both Chiropractic and modern Physiotherapy in its origin.
In Osteopathic practice, great emphasis is placed on getting an accurate diagnosis. With a full case history gained form the patient and a thorough physical examination, the Osteopath will advise appropriate treatment. Understanding the problem completely will empower the patient in their recovery and return to overall wellbeing. With a diagnosis and a good management plan, there usually is a solution to any pain.
A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine reported that patients receiving Osteopathic Treatment for low back pain required significantly less medication and less physical therapy than those who didn’t receive Osteopathic Treatment.
It is reported that around 80% of people will experience some sort of back pain during their life.
According to the Global Burden of Disease 2010, low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, and one of the most common reasons for missed work. Perhaps not surprisingly the majority of those workers are in sedentary occupations; spending the bulk of their day sitting at a desk.
There are many different reasons for back pain ranging from arthritic changes, poor posture, incorrect ergonomic setup, lack of exercise, limited flexibility, genetic factors and weight gain. Fortunately many of these are preventable and treatable. Pain is a warning, and if we ignore the initial subtle pain signals we run the risk of the pain progressively getting worse.
Important factors affecting Low Back Pain
- Back pain is closely correlated to a lack of exercise. Exercise generally improves blood flow and muscle strength, relieves muscle tension and alleviates the build-up of stress in the body. Eloquently said by Aristotle; “movement is life”. One of the reasons we aim to have optimal mobility in our bodies is to reduce the stiffness that builds up in our bodies. If there is reduced mobility in our musculoskeletal system it requires more energy to maintain the status quo, and we start to compensate for the restricted areas.
- Sleeping is the time our bodies desperately need to restore and repair during the night. Bad sleeping habits, insomnia and a poor sleeping posture all affect the overall health of our bodies, especially over a prolonged time period. If pain is worse in the mornings it is often a sign of inflammation. Spending a couple of minutes stretching out your lower back before getting out of bed will help ease this.
- Work posture is one of the key components when it comes to managing back pain. It is advised to explore the option of having a stand-up desk which allows you to change between sitting and standing. When sitting at a desk, the spine should be completely supported, with a concave low back support; either a feature of the chair, or use a small pillow behind the lower back. Sitting forward leaning towards the computer screen places huge demands on the unsupported spinal muscles as well as the neck muscles. Slouching also encourages the shoulders to roll forward and causes strain on the lower back.