Back pain Separating fact from fiction
Written by Peter Georgilopoulos
APA Sports Physiotherapist – Spine and Body
Back pain is generally acknowledged as the single most prevalent cause for lost productivity in occupational medicine
Recreationally and on the sporting field, back pain also accounts for significant loss of enjoyment and participation and is often the underlying cause of associated muscular pain and tightness especially in the posterior thigh, calf, buttock or groin.
Pain may be of sudden onset and may emanate from a sudden overload as in lifting a weight or from an apparently trivial episode such as bending forward. It may also occur gradually through repetitive strain, poor posture or biomechanical imbalances such as flat feet (pronation) or leg length discrepancies.
Symptoms can include numbness, tingling or a burning sensation which is often indicative of nerve compression from structure such as damaged disc or bony deformation as a result of arthritic changes.
Investigations such as x-rays and bone scans can confirm the presence and extent of bony damage or deterioration whereas MRI, CT and ultrasound scans can be useful in identifying disc and other soft tissue lesions.
Contrary to popular belief, scans, although useful in identifying the presence and extent of a suspected lesion, are by no means a necessary part of the initial diagnostic process. By far the most valuable diagnostic tool is the clinical examination in which a series of physical tests can establish an accurate diagnosis.
In some cases, minor episodic back pain may resolve within a few days simply by avoiding further aggravation and there are many prophylactic exercises and postural and lifting techniques that can help avoid the onset of pain.
In cases of sudden or severe symptoms, early diagnosis and management can have immediate results with rapid return to full function.
Manual therapy, including spinal manipulation, is a cost effective technique that can alleviate symptoms rapidly.
Traction in which the spine is gently stretched for a short period can also be an extremely useful technique especially where extensive arthritic (degenerative) changes are identified.
At Spine and Body Centre of Allied Health, our experienced senior physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath can establish an accurate diagnosis, undertake manual techniques to reduce pain and improve active range of movement and mobility and offer advice and techniques to prevent future exacerbations.
We can assist private patients immediately, without the need for a medical referral. Workcover, Veteran Affairs’, Motor Accident Board and Chronic Disease Management patients will require a referral from their medical practitioner or specialist.
If unsure which of our highly qualified and experienced practitioners to see, simply call us on 07 5531 6244 and our friendly reception staff will assist you.