Back Pain

Back Pain

Are you suffering from a sore back? If so, you are not alone. Back pain is experienced by 70-80% of adults at some point in their lives. Fortunately, most pain resolves within two weeks.

Risk Factors for back pain include:

  • Lifting heavy loads
  • Sedentary lifestyle or occupation   
  • Poor posture
  • Repetitive lifting 
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Depression

By seeing a physiotherapist for your pain, they can differentiate what type of back pain you have and rule in or out any other conditions that may require you to have a scan or additional treatment.

Type of back pain include:

Non-specific (90-95%)

    • Back pain where there is no specific structure that is injured. 
    • Does not require a scan as they generally cannot identify what is causing your pain. 
    • This can be caused by a specific incident or from repetitive loading over time
    • Usually resolves within 2 weeks

Specific spinal pathologies (<1%)

    • These require  urgent referral and treatment. Your physiotherapist will be able to identify if you have a specific spinal pathology and refer you on accordingly

Radicular pain (5-10%)

    • Structural changes that can irritate a nerve or disc. These can include the sciatic nerve, disc herniation and spinal stenosis (the space around your spinal cord narrows)

Do physiotherapists treat back pain?

Physiotherapists are experts at treating back pain as it is one of the most common injuries we see. Treatment is aimed at reducing your pain levels whilst improving the movement and function of your whole body. This includes developing dynamic strength and endurance around the area to reduce the risk of re-injury.

Your physiotherapist will guide you through your recovery period by giving you advice and education about your recovery time. They will provide you with treatment and give you specific exercises and techniques for self-management. Your physiotherapist will also help identify and modify risk factors which may be contributing to your pain.

Studies have shown the effectiveness of hands on treatments, for example massage, dry needling and joint mobilisations, in combination with exercise therapy to improve non-specific or acute back pain (less than 3 months). There is plenty of research and evidence supporting exercise-based therapy for back pain, whether it be acute or chronic (greater than 3 months). Exercise based therapy helps improve mobility, flexibility, strength and endurance to your muscles, which also helps improve joint function. Your physiotherapist will guide you on appropriate exercises and provide you with an exercise plan to help eliminate unwanted back pain.

Written by Georgia Snow

Senior Physiotherapist at Malvern Physiotherapy Clinic

Published March 11, 2020


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