Understanding Lower Back Pain


  1. Passive treatments give only short term relief

In the early stage, passive treatments such as joint mobilisation, massage, dry needling and heat can be helpful in reducing pain and improve your mobility. However, they only give temporary relief as these treatments focus on the symptoms and don’t treat the cause.

2. MRI & CT Scans are Generally Not Needed

Research tells us that what we find on scans is not a reliable measure of the person’s pain or function. What we know is that changes to the discs and joints of the spine are a natural form of ageing and this process starts in our 20’s. These changes are akin to wrinkles or grey hair.

Don’t get me wrong… imaging is useful and required in certain presentations, however, it is certainly the minority and is indicated in severe cases, where we use the scans to confirm a diagnosis or escalate or change our treatment methods, for example, further referral to a Specialist or surgeon.

3. Reduce or Manage Stress

Living with high levels of stress makes you more likely to experience back pain. Research demonstrates that increased sustained levels of the stress hormone cortisol, can cause pain even without the presence of tissue damage.

4. Bed rest is not recommended and will increase your pain. It is important to have ‘relative rest’. Do this by introducing gentle movement and changing positions regularly as this helps reduce pain and improve your recovery outcomes.

5. Exercise Has the Highest Level of Evidence in Reducing Back Pain

Exercise and Clinical Pilates has the highest level of evidence and is the best way of treating and reducing lower back pain. A 6 week program of exercise or clinical pilates was found to reduce back pain and improved the participant’s disability index between 29-43%.

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