There are a massive number of reasons that you can get back pain. Here I’ve tried to simplify it:
1. Acute mechanical lower back pain. You have strained a ligament, pulled a muscle, compressed a facet, strained a disc or tweaked one (or a number) of pain sensitive structures around the spine. GOOD NEWS… most back pain recovers in 2 weeks. Don’t stress, take it easy for a while (the body needs rest to recover from injury) and make sure that while you’re healing you think about your posture more than usual. Try to resume your normal ex levels slowly.
2. Chronic low back pain. NUTS! It’s not fixed itself and now its been a few months and you still can’t move properly, and it’s still hurting. You need to be aware that, although there can be persistent ‘issues in the tissues’, chronic pain is best managed by a combined approach of physiotherapy, gradual restoration of normal movement patterns and cognitive behavioural therapy. It’s important you understand pain itself as an entity and stop thinking about how damaged the tissues are.
3. Back pain with pins and needles in your arms or legs, pain into your calf and ankle, or arms and hands, and weakness making you feel more clumsy. These are indicators we need some imaging (Xray/CT/MRI) to evaluate whether there is significant pressure on your nerve tissue. If there is, treatment can be with anything from conservative physio to localised injections to spinal surgery. Best get that one checked out.
Overall if you move well, ensure you’re not putting on too much weight, if you’re sleeping and eating well and develop good postural habits you significantly reduce your risks of developing back pain. Despite all these things though some people still get back pain and for these people there may be a genetic predisposition. If you’re one of these people – blame your parents! But also manage the issues again as you would for the chronic back pain group.
The skill of a physio in the management of back pain is to evaluate underlying movement dysfunctions and work towards re-establishing normal movement whilst optimising postural control and endurance.