Back Pain is the most common musculoskeletal condition in the UK, with 60-80% of us experiencing it at some point in our lives. Understandably, we can feel quite worried when experiencing back pain, but actually our backs are strong and back pain is rarely an indicator of serious damage. In up to 90% of lower back pain cases, the underlying cause remains unknown despite imaging and other tests, but this doesn’t mean we can’t make significant improvements to our pain levels or our ability to return to exercise. So what is the best approach to back pain?
It can seem like rest is a logical approach, but the evidence actually shows that long periods of inactivity slows the recovery process. Instead we should try to keep physically active, as exercise increases blood flow to the soft tissues in the back, promoting healing and reducing stiffness that can result in back pain. The research shows that activities such as Pilates, resistance training and aerobic exercise training at the most effective at reducing pain by a clinically meaningful amount. It is unlikely that a specific form of exercise is the single best approach, which is great news as it means we can engage in the activities we enjoy – whether walking, cycling, strength training etc – and reduce back pain as well as improving physical function and muscle strength.
So how can we help you at NM Sports Therapy? We will conduct a thorough physical assessment to see how you move and how your muscles, nerves and joints are working. We can then discuss the options available, and the best treatment plan that suits your needs. Manual therapy, including soft tissue massage, is effective in reducing pain and in reducing fear-avoidance of activity. We can offer advice on pain management, and home-based/ office-based rehabilitation exercises tailored to your lifestyle.
Suffering with back pain or know someone who is? Check our Practitioners profiles, you can even book online!
Martí-Salvador et al (2018), Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment Including Specific Diaphragm Techniques Improves Pain and Disability in Chronic Nonspecific Low Back Pain: A Randomized Trial, Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 99(9): 1720-1729
O’Sullivan et al. (2019), Back to basics: 10 facts every person should know about back pain, British Journal of Sports Medicine (Ahead of print)
Owen et al (2019), Which specific modes of exercise training are most effective for treating low back pain? Network meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine (Ahead of print)