LOWER BACK PAIN
by Dr. Daniel Gibbs
Lower back pain is one of the most common conditions seen in many clinics: The lower back is a vulnerable part of the human anatomy and a condition that is often brought about by sedentary lifestyles, postural tendencies, trauma, over exertion or various combinations thereof. In other instances, anatomical abnormalities of inflammatory conditions can be the main causative factors. It is also common to experience secondary pain in the legs and hips through nerve referral or pelvic instability. Recovery times can vary based on the nature of the condition and/or the type of injury sustained.
Many people are overly conservative with their level of activity after a lower back injury. It is very important that stretching and core exercises are incorporated into rehabilitation. Slowly increasing the intensity over several months lessens the chance of re-injury via the conditioning and increased blood follow that helps to heal. Pilates, yoga, physiotherapy and exercise physiology can all provide appropriate stretching and toning guidance. Stretching your legs in all natural direction is important so quadriceps, hip-flexors, hamstrings, calves, glutes, ilio-tibial bands and adductors.
One of the most important preventive and management stretches for those working at seated desk jobs involves the hip flexors; when seated routinely for long periods hip flexors will tighten/shorten and slowly disrupt the natural curve of the lower back: This will make the back progressively more prone to injury and dysfunction if regular stretches are not performed to compensate for the process. If lower back pain is accompanied by general muscle tightness or cramping then it can be very helpful to take magnesium tablets; magnesium tends to be deficient in many Australian foods due to low concentrations in the soil. Increasing your water intake is around two litres per day can also help with cramping and general tightness.
Acupuncture and massage are generally effective in the treatments of all types of lower back pain. It can help to release muscular and fascial tightness, increase blood flow and diminish the representation of pain in the nervous system and therefore the degree of pain perceived: in the case of chronic conditions such is very helpful especially if combined with relaxation and mental techniques that control and helpfully mould cerebral portions of the nervous system involved in the chronic pain process. At Freedom Chinese Medicine, we also conduct regular workshops that help people self-manage their condition via instruction in particular stretching, strengthening techniques and the recommendation specific therapies based on the nature of the problem. I’d be happy to answer any questions and can be contacted on 03 9486 5966 or [email protected]
Kumar, P. & Clark, M. 2004, Clinical Medicine (5th edition), W.B. Saunders, Edinburgh, pp. 276-286