Approximately 4.0 million Australians (16% of the population) experience back pain, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017–18 National Health. According to statistics, 70–90% of people will experience some form of lower back pain during their lives. Furthermore, most back problems are associated with chronic pain.
Chronic back pain refers to a range of conditions affecting the bones, joints, connective tissue, muscles, and nerves of the back. The neck (cervical spine) and upper back (thoracic spine), as well as the lower back (lumbar spine) as well as the sacrum (coccyx), can be affected by these conditions.
Fortunately, one of the most effective treatments for chronic back pain is osteopathy, the fastest growing branch of allied health in Australia.
Common causes of chronic back pain
Chronic back pain is related to issues associated with posture and injuries.
Diseases such as osteoarthritis, disc disease, osteoporosis, and some genetic conditions can contribute to chronic back pain.
Other factors may increase your risk of developing back pain like age, physical fitness, smoking, being overweight, and the type of work you do.
Factors of chronic back pain
Some of these sound like they could incite fear or negative associations with the body which contributes to chronic pain (wear and tear, degeneration, narrowing etc. - a lot of imaging findings show these things in asymptomatic individuals
- Neck pain/stiffness due to disc degeneration.
- Tingling, numbness, and weakness in the legs that begin in the lower back are persistent pain symptoms.
- Spinal degeneration, caused by wear and tear of the spine joints.
- Narrowing of the spinal canal through which the spinal cord travels.
- A variety of injuries and conditions can cause pain in the lower, middle, and upper back.
- When pressure is applied to a spinal nerve segment connected to the spinal cord.
Can an osteopath help with back pain?
Many people seek treatment from an osteopathic physician for back pain, but preventive care is also an option. Osteopathic techniques focus on relieving pain through manual therapy techniques such as massage, stretching exercises, and joint mobilisation.
Gentle and subtle manipulation, particularly of the muscles and soft tissues, is used in treatment. Your muscles may be stretched or massaged by one of our osteopaths.
Your osteopath will take a thorough history and perform a physical assessment including special tests to identify or rule out serious conditions that may require emergency care. In some cases they may recommend imaging or refer to a specialist for other interventions like cortisone injections or surgery. In most cases, we recommend a conservative, non-invasive intervention like osteopathy and exercise as a first approach to pain management and rehabilitation.
Benefits of osteopathic techniques for chronic back pain
Osteopathy is a drug-free, non-invasive form of manual medicine that focuses on the body's overall health rather than just the injured or affected part.
Pain and discomfort can cause a lack of sleep or restless nights, making it difficult for the body to function correctly and reducing the ability to cope with pain. Sleeplessness and insomnia caused by chronic pain are reduced with osteopathy.
Osteopathy can improve body function and overall health by influencing the nervous, circulatory, and lymphatic systems.
Some osteopathic techniques may improve lymphatic health and cause internal body improvements without invasive surgical treatment.
Osteopathic back pain prevention advice
In patients with nonspecific pain, intensive patient education that includes advice to stay active, avoid aggravating movements, return to regular activity as soon as possible, and discuss the often benign nature of acute low back pain is very effective.
Recommendations may include:
- Dietary changes to promote healthy eating.
- Adjustments to workplace ergonomics, such as your desk and chair placement.
- Stress reduction practices such as breathwork. Breathwork helps you to focus, lower your blood pressure, reduce anxiety and calm down. It also reduces tension in the neck and shoulders and improves circulation.
- Lifting techniques to maintain proper form. There are several techniques to help you maintain good form and avoid injuries. If you lift weights the right way, it's a great way to get stronger.
- A stretching and mobility exercise routine. Dynamic stretching before a workout can help prevent muscle strains and tears. It's also good to stretch after a workout to help your muscles recover faster. While mobility exercises are a great way to warm up the body and get the blood flowing.
These lifestyle changes can significantly improve health while lowering long-term health risks and costs.
Preventing injury means spending more time being active, taking fewer days off work, and having more time to enjoy the benefits of healthy living.
Chronic back pain has become an epidemic in modern society due to our sedentary lifestyles and poor posture. Today, the average person spends more than an hour in front of a screen due to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. As a result, posture is negatively affected, and musculoskeletal problems arise.
If you’re looking for relief from chronic back pain without surgery or medication, osteopathy might be the answer you need.
If you are struggling with chronic back pain, please book an appointment today to determine if osteopathy is the right option for your situation.