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Showing posts from tagged with: back

Back Pain: The Chain of Command

Back Pain: The Chain of Command

Your spine is essentially the chain that forms the ‘backbone’ of your entire body. Without it you would be a blob of muscles, organs and soft tissue piled on the floor. Your spine commands respect because it is the pillar that supports your body, allows you to walk, stand and sit, as well as touch and feel; because it forms the canal connecting the nerves from your body and limbs, to your brain. While your heart may be the vital organ that keeps you alive, without your spine you wouldn’t be able to move. There are three natural curves in your spine that give it an "S" shape when viewed from the side. These curves help the spine withstand great amounts of stress by distributing your body weight. Between the bony vertebra are spongy discs that act as shock absorbers. The lumbar spine (or lower back) connects the thoracic spine to the pelvis, and bears the bulk of your body's weight. Your spine is not rigid though. It allows movement through the intervertebral joints connecting the bony vertebra. These joints allow you to twist, to bend forward and backward, and from side to side. Large groups of muscles surrounding the spine, pelvis, hips and upper body all interact to allow for movements like walking, running, jumping, and swimming. However, there are also muscles deep in your body that work constantly just to maintain your posture when you’re sitting and standing. It is essential that all elements of the spinal ‘chain’ work harmoniously together to ensure fluid movement without overloading structures resulting in injury and pain. Any link in the chain that becomes ‘stuck’ will not only affect that spinal level but also the movement and strength of the chain above and below it. If the muscles around the spine are uneven in strength and length (flexibility) this too can affect the ‘chain’, altering the alignment and motion of the links. Taking care of your spine now will help you lower the chances of experiencing back pain later. Many of the steps you can take to improve the overall health of your spine involve nothing more than practicing better body mechanics, or how you move and hold yourself, when you do daily tasks and activities.

Taking Care of Your Spine

Pay attention to early warning signs or pain. Although back pain is very common and nearly every person will experience at least one episode of back pain in a lifetime, it is essential to address any symptoms promptly. It has also been shown in studies that early treatment and rehabilitation can prevent recurrent bouts of back pain and prevent the development of chronic lower back pain which can be very debilitating, stressful and depressing. It can affect your ability to work, play sport, socialise and sleep, all of which can further compound your pain cycle. Your back pain could be due to inflamed ligaments, damaged intervertebral discs, nerve irritation, bony formations on the spine, muscle imbalances such as weakness or a lack of flexibility, leg length differences, or muscle strains, to name just a few. Even the way we move (or don’t move) at work, school or sport can all be an underlying cause to the current pain.

How Physiotherapy Can Help with Back Pain

Your physio can treat the pain or stiffness experienced from back pain using massage, soft tissue mobilisation, spinal manipulation, heat, acupuncture and other devices. It is important that you, together with your physio work through a rehabilitation programme (specific exercises and stretches) to correct underlying muscle weaknesses, flexibility issues, and the sequence in which the muscles around your spine work to provide stability. A physio can also give you advice on correcting posture / technique for work and sport. Should you need referral to another professional your physio can also help with this, for example, a dietician to counsel on a meal plan to achieve a healthy body weight. Being active can also help prevent as well as cure back pain. Chat to us today about what we can do to help. Ph 02 6676 4000

Back Pain and Sleep Issues

One of the most common issues back pain sufferers experience is sleep disruption so we have put together an interactive Back Pain and Sleep Guide to help you banish those sleepless nights and wake up feeling refreshed. The guide includes: • 6 Strategies for Improving Your Sleep • 8 bedtime stretches to relieve back pain (with video links) • Sleeping positions that will help relieve pain (with links to videos) • 7 Yoga Poses that will help cure most back pain issues A morning stretch routine that will help ease pain from a restless night (with videos) Click this link to find out more and download the guide Disclaimer: This information is intended as general guidance and information only and should not be relied upon as a basis for planning individual medical care or as a substitute for specialist medical advice in each individual case.

The Truth About Discogenic Lower Back Pain

The Truth About Discogenic Lower Back Pain

What is it?

As we all know, our spines are made up of vertebrae which are connected with each other by discs. These discs are responsible for absorbing the shock our spine experiences and they also allow and limit our movements. These discs are made up of an outer layer called the annulus fibrosis while an inner layer consisting of a gelatinous material known as the nucleus pulposis. This can be best describe as your jam filled doughnuts. When someone proclaims that “I have slipped my disc” they are actually describing a the pain they felt on their lower back which is really called the discogenic lower back pain. Even though the disc itself has not slipped, this has become the generic term for such injury. A more precise and to the point description of discogenic lower back pain is the disc bulge or a disc herniation, but this will also depend on how severe the injury may be. Disc bulge happen when an internal disruption of the disc and the inner gelatinous nucleus material or the nucleus pulposis moves to the outer edges otherwise known as the annulus fibrosis. This creates a bulging effect. The outermost part of the disc is highly innervated (nerve supply), and this bulging can cause serious discomfort.

Mechanism of Injury

An injury to the spine, otherwise known as disc bulge or herniation may be caused by lifting heavy objects, pain can also be triggered by minor activities such as bending to pick things up from the floor. A person can be injured without his knowledge because the inner part of the disc has no nerve endings that will trigger pain, it is only when the outer part begins to show signs of tearing that pain is felt. And this is best describes as “the straw that breaks the camel’s back”. Aside from repetitive heavy lifting of objects, sitting for a prolong period of time is also a common cause of injury to your lower back because it places great stress to the discs. Individuals who suffer lower back injuries often have some pre-existing condition regarding their proximal stability or weakness to their postural muscles. Signs and Symptoms
  • Severe pain is felt on one side of the lower back, down to one leg and it is also common that the same pain is felt even down to the toes
  • Once pain is felt, bending forwards and other movements are restricted especially when getting up from sitting. 
  • When experiencing neurological signs such as pains of pins and needles, numbness, weakness or bladder and bowel dysfunctions a careful consideration must be given because these may be signs of more serious disc injury.
Treatment Management
  • The most common treatment method to follow is the McKenzie Technique  - It involves proper exercise that reduces the pressure on the injured disc and it allows healing.
  • While dealing with the posterior disc bulge or herniation of the disc, extension based exercise is essential . 
  • Taping the lower back can help maintain comfortable posture and can help reduce muscular spasm to relieve pain.
  • Spinal mobilization and soft tissue massage to restore movement. 
  • Clinical Pilates can help regain stability of the proximal muscle.
  Self Management
  • Find out more about body position and certain activities to avoid pain and allow healing to your back.
  • Enrol in a Pilates based strengthening program.
  • Improve your posture by using lumbar rolls.