Preventing Back Pain
Preventing Back Pain
by Sayo Sivapathan, Physiotherapist
The prevention of low back pain is a goal we all strive for everyday as it can be so limiting causing us to take sick days, reduce social interactions and increase our reliance on pharmacological agents.
60% of Australia’s general population will experience low back pain in their lifetime, with incidents occurring within any age group, increasing from school age and peaking between the ages of 35 to 55.
The strongest indicator for a new episode of low back pain is previous history. Two thirds of people who have experienced their first case of back pain are likely have a reoccurrence over a 12 month period. Other risks for low back pain are heavy physical work, frequent bending, twisting, lifting, static posture as well as repetitive tasks.
What does the evidence say…?
Most recent literature states physical exercise is to be recommended for those suffering from back pain. This is to both manage the symptoms and prevent further occurrences. Interestingly the use of lumbar supports, pelvic belts or special mattress show insignificant results when treating low back pain. There is no one exercise which prevents or reduces the risk of low back pain however a combination of exercises are shown to be most effective. Education, ideally coupled with physical activity, on low back pain and knowing the risk factors helps enormously. Modifying certain activities, as well as engaging in an active role show reduction in symptoms and lower the risk of reoccurrence.
What should I do if I experience back pain?
If you experience pain you should talk to your GP or physiotherapist and have a thorough investigation before considering any treatment. Your GP may provide education and recommend a combination of pharmacological treatments and may also refer you to a physiotherapist. A referral is not required.
Physiotherapists can teach individuals on certain exercises, how to modify activities and movements to avoid any potential flare up, and compile a program to allow you to return to everyday activities.Physiotherapists can also assist in education, dispelling misconceptions of back pain, and suggest modifications in daily tasks and posture correcting techniques. This will help for a quicker return to school, work or social engagements.
Group therapies including Pilates, Yoga and Hydrotherapy may also be used for back pain. These exercises have shown to improve function, reduce pain and regain confidence. Such therapies are also a good way get involved socially with the local community.
Unfortunately the symptoms of low back pain manifest themselves differently from person to person, which make diagnosing the source of back pain difficult.
Back pain should be seen as an issue for all ages and all aspects of society. Therefore treatment should avoid a universal approach and rather be taken as a case by case basis for best possible results. Speaking to your health professional is a good place to start.
Sayo Sivapathan is a Physiotherapist at Lakeview Private Rehabilitation.