Sixty to ninety percent of all people suffer from low back pain at some point in their lives. There are many types of low back pain. From mildly aching pain that disappears over time, to chronic pain that affects your daily life for years, to acute pain were you suddenly find yourself unable to move. In only about ten percent of the cases a medical problem (such as a hernia or deformity of the back) is the cause of the pain.
In most patients, no abnormalities in the spine can be found during examination, yet the pain exists and persists. This is called non-specific low back pain. In many cases making photos or scans will turn out to be counterproductive. Things can be found that do not bother the patient at all, following incorrect treatment, or nothing can be seen at the specific location where the pain is experienced.
Many patients with non-specific low back pain have found traditional treatment to be insufficient, and over time complaints can worsen.
If your low back pain is acute (shorter than 6 weeks) we advice to temporarily reduce your activities, but keep moving as much as possible. Light exercise (such as walking, cycling, and swimming) might reduce recovery time. If the pain is above your threshold, the use of a painkiller or anti-inflammatory can be useful to keep moving. Only lie down when you really have no other options. Being bedridden slows down recovery time and in some cases worsens the back pain. You can pick up your activities gradually, and it is not necessary to wait going to work or sport until the pain has completely disappeared.
If your back pain persists longer than 12 weeks (chronic back pain) and no physical abnormalities have been found during any of your examinations, we can look into other issues. How is your posture? How are you moving? Have you had any other back pain complaints in the past years? Chronic back pain is often caused by a combination of factors, which can be both physically and psychologically.
One source of chronic low back pain is that the patient is afraid to move. The result may be that the patient moves more carefully and less smoothly and that the muscles will contract due to the extra tightening. This will exacerbate the back pain. Back pain often brings stress, which can also affect the severity of the back pain. It is especially important that the patient moves, even if they are in pain. We can learn how to deal with and manage the pain and, despite certain limitations, happily carry on with our daily lives. Treatment options are physical therapy, manipulation, and back training. At Pain Away Clinic we are specialized in physical therapy, and we have licensed physicians with many years of experience treating patients with non-specific low back pain.
Chronic lower back pain rarely has a single cause. It is often a combination of wear and tear, wrong posture/movement, and psychological factors. The back is a network of muscles and nerves that work together and is influenced by all sorts of factors. Back complaints are therefore often coming and going in the life of a patient with non-specific low back pain. In cases where we aren’t able to get rid of the pain completely, we can bring improvement in managing the pain. This prevents the pain becoming worse over time, and enables the patient to pick up all their activities again.