Oh My Aching Back!

Oh My Back!

As spring is upon us and summer approaches, it is once again the season to continue to fulfill our New Year’s resolutions. Spring brings warmer weather, increased activities but also can result in individuals being overzealous creating pain. Unfortunately, this increasing of our activity level often happens to lead to back pain for many individuals as they venture out into their yards to start gardening, take up running or are just overall more active due to the nicer, warmer temperatures. It is known that roughly 60-90% of all individuals in Canada will suffer from some sort of back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain accounts for a large majority of loss time in the workplace accounting for as much as 40% of total lost time (Worksafe BC). What is staggering is that of these individuals suffering from back pain, is that if the pain is left untreated or they do not receive any therapy, this pain re-occurs at a rate of 90%. This is where interventions such as physiotherapy, massage therapy and a good back rehabilitation program can be of benefit, to stop this pain from recurring and to help give pain relief and allow individuals to get back to work and to their life activities.

What can cause low back injuries or pain?

Many things can cause low back injuries or pain and these include: muscle strains or spasm, sprains of ligaments (which attach bone to bone), joint problems or a "slipped disk." Contrary to popular belief the disk does not slip but rather bulges. The most common cause of low back pain is using your back muscles in activities or ways that you’re not used to, like lifting heavy furniture, playing basketball, snow shoveling, doing yard work and even can happen bending over to tie up your shoe. A slipped disk (medically know as a disc bulge) happens when the disk between the bones bulges and presses on nerves. This is often caused by twisting and bending while lifting; however, many people won’t know what caused their slipped disk. This pain can be felt down one or both of the legs and is commonly known as “sciatica”. Back pain can also follow normal activities such as bending over the sink to brush your teeth. This pain may be made worse by stress, long periods of inactivity or being in an unusual position for a long time. If you are experiencing back pain be sure to monitor your symptoms.

Call your doctor or seek medical help (physiotherapist/ massage therapist) if:

  • Pain goes down your leg below your knee.
  • Your leg, foot, groin or rectal area feels numb.
  • You have fever, nausea or vomiting, stomach-ache, weakness, or sweating
  • You lose control over going to the bathroom.
  • Your pain was caused by an injury.
  • Your pain is so intense you can’t move around.
  • Your pain doesn’t seem to be getting better after two to three weeks.

Tips for preventing back strain and pain

  • Don’t lift by bending over.
  • Lift an object by bending your hips and knees and then squatting to pick up the object.
  • improper footwear (non-supportive footwear, sandals, flip flops)
  • Keep your back straight and hold the object close to your body.
  • Avoid twisting your body while lifting.
  • Push rather than pull when you must move heavy objects.
  • When starting an exercise program, start slowly with a gradual build up.
  • If you must sit at your desk or at the wheel of a car or truck for long hours, break up the time with stops to stretch.
  • Try not to sit at your desk for more than 45 mins straight without a “micro-break”.
  • Think about your posture. (No, bad posture is not genetic!)
  • When wearing shoes try to wear one with less then 2 inch heel.
  • Warm up for 10 minutes whenever possible before activity.

When might I need therapy?

You may benefit from Physiotherapy and/or Massage Therapy for your back pain if you have any of the above mentioned symptoms and your back pain is not getting better after 1-2 weeks. At this point in time you may want to consult your doctor and let them know about the pain you are experiencing and see if they recommend that you start your therapeutic process.

There is hope!!!

After your doctor has given you the green light to start therapy be sure to contact a reputable physiotherapist / massage therapist to help you get rid of your back pain. Physiotherapy has been shown to be effective in reducing both the discomfort of back pain and the recurrence of this pain. Massage therapy also has been shown to improve low back pain outcomes as well as help to reduce stress and tension in the area. The rehabilitation program outlined by the therapist is aimed at reducing the muscle spasms, correcting posture as well as strengthening the weak muscles that are at fault. This integrated approach is paramount to getting individuals back to their wellness and activities that they enjoy. This is done with a multitude of techniques varying from: exercise therapy to mobilizations, acupuncture, IMS, TDN or even the coveted Graston Technique. If you have back pain, or any pain for that matter, do yourself a favor and get the therapy you need so that you can begin your journey to improved wellness and health. Together with the right therapist and rehab program, we can say “Goodbye” to that stubborn back pain and say hello to a Happier, Healthier Tomorrow!!

To book your assessment call us now at (613) 425-5757.

Posted by Darrin Mathews

Director of Clinical Practice, Registered Physiotherapist, Graston Certified Practitioner and Joint Reaction Health Center Co-founder