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Ivanhoe Osteopaths Can Help Your Low Back Pain.

Info Relinque - Sunday, October 16, 2011

Find out why more and more people in Ivanhoe are turning to osteopaths to relieve low back pain.

Lower back pain is a very common complaint that affects around 80% of people at some point in their lives. It is one of the most common occupational health problems in our society and a leading contributor to missed days at work. The causes of lower back pain are varied, and range from mild acute muscle strains, to severe chronic arthritic conditions. 

What Are The Most Common Causes Of Low Back Pain? 

The most common causes of lower back pain the osteopaths see at Relinque in Melbourne are lumbar strain or sprain injuries, arthritis and degenerative joint changes, and nerve irritation with sciatica. 

1) Lumbar Strain Injuries

The most common cause of lower back pain stems from benign musculoskeletal strains and sprains. This category accounts for around 99% of all lower back injuries, and is the most common presentation the osteopaths see at our clinic in Melbourne. 

Lumbar strain injuries are characterised by localised discomfort along either side of your spine, which can sometimes refer into your hips and upper thighs. The severity of the pain can vary considerably from mild to severe, depending on the injury and amount of muscle spasm in your lower back. Bending movements are often restricted, and generally cause an increase in your symptoms.

Lumbar strain injuries generally occur because of poor posture, overuse, or trauma. It can lead to slight stretching of the muscles, tendons or ligaments in your lower back and often results in microscopic tears of varying degrees in these tissues.  

Can osteopathy help low back pain caused by lumbar strain injuries?

Osteopathy can provide very effective relief of back pain that occurs as a result of a lumbar strain injury. This is the most common cause of low back pain the osteopaths see at our clinic in Melbourne. These injuries, if managed correctly, respond very well to osteopathic treatment, and should resolve completely within a couple of weeks.

Osteopathic treatment for lumbar strain injuries focuses on decreasing the associated muscle spasm and increasing the joint mobility that always occurs with these injuries. The osteopaths at our clinic in Melbourne will also assess other lifestyle factors such as poor posture, and work environment that may be contributing factors to your lower back pain.

2)Arthritis And Degenerative Joint Changes

Back pain caused by degenerative bone and joint conditions are not seen as often as lumbar strain injuries, but it is always considered in any patient who presents to our clinic over the age of 40. 

Arthritic and degenerative changes in the lumbar spine can vary quite considerably in their presentation. In the early stages, arthritic change may present exactly the same as a lumbar strain injury, as it is the surrounding tissues that cause the pain, and not the actual degenerative tissues. As the arthritis progresses and the degeneration increases, the presentation starts to change. In these cases, you may start to notice the pain becomes more frequent, and persists for longer periods through the day. Your symptoms may be easily aggravated by simple movements such as gardening and housework.  Movement generally becomes restricted and painful in all directions. 

Can osteopathy help low back pain caused by arthritis and degenerative joint changes? 

Osteopathic treatment can be very successful in the treatment of lower back pain caused by arthritis and joint degeneration. Degeneration of the facet joints and discs in the lower back causes minor changes in the biomechanics and stability of the spine. These changes cause the surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments to become stressed and subsequently and go into spasm as they try to support the lumbar spine. The interesting point that must be made about these degenerative conditions is that most of the pain in the early to mid stages comes from the surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and not from that actual degenerative tissues. Osteopathic treatment that targets the stressed and tight tissues has the potential to give very good relief for your back pain. 

3)Nerve Irritation And Sciatic Pain

Irritation to the nerves of the lumbar spine can be caused by mechanical pressure anywhere along their path - from their roots near the spine to their endings in the muscle or skin. Disc herniation and bony encroachment are two of the most common causes of nerve irritation.
a) Disc herniation or disc bulge: Caused by trauma or degeneration to the discs in the lumbar spine that results in the softer central portion herniating through the outer ring of the disc. This herniation of the disc then pushes on the nerve causing pain into the hip, and also down the leg.

Lumbar disc herniation can either occur spontaneously following a trauma, or it may be preceded by a history of lower back pain over a number of years. It is usually characterised by a constant aching sensation in the lower back, with shooting pain down one of the legs, that may develop into tingling and numbness. The pain commonly increases when the body is in certain positions such as sitting and bending.

In severe cases a herniated disc may lead to bladder or bowel problems. In these instances we recommend you consult your doctor immediately. CT scans and MRI will confirm the diagnosis of lumbar disc herniation.  

Can osteopathy help low back pain caused by a bulging disc?

Yes. Although great care needs to be taken in the early stages, the osteopaths at our clinic in Melbourne regularly treat disc bulges. 

The main focus of osteopaths in the treatment of disc bulge injuries is to decrease the muscle and joint pain that always occurs with these injuries. Osteopaths do not treat the disc bulge injury directly, but instead focus their treatment on the surrounding tissues in the lower back in an attempt to decrease muscle spasm, increase joint movement, and improve blood flow to the damaged area. 

b) Bony encroachment: Any condition that occurs as a result of growth or movement of the lumbar vertebrae that decreases the space for the adjacent spinal cord and nerves. Compression of the lumbar spinal nerves can cause sciatic pain that radiates down the leg. The major causes of bony encroachment are:
-Foraminal narrowing: Narrowing of the hole which the spinal nerves pass through. Generally occurs as a result of arthritis.
-Spondylolisthesis: One vertebrae moves forward in relation to another one.
-Spinal stenosis: Narrowing of the spinal column or foramina that causes compression on the spinal cord or spinal nerves 

Can Osteopathy help back pain caused by bony encroachment?

The treatment plan depends entirely on the severity of the condition, and the health of the person. In severe cases surgery may be the only way to decompress the spinal cord and spinal nerves. In mild to moderate conditions however, you have a few more options that can provide great relief. 

The osteopaths at our clinic in Melbourne have successfully treated mild to moderate cases of bony encroachment using a combination of massage and myofascial work.  Pilates core strengthening exercises are also generally recommended in the management of these conditions. Rehabilitation usually involves a thorough review of all lifestyle factors that may be contributing to the symptoms.

If you have any questions regarding osteopathy or low back pain please contact one of the osteopaths at Relinque osteopathy Melbourne.

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