Lower back pain can be one of the most debilitating conditions that clients present with at Barefoot Physiotherapy. Clients will often ask, “why do I have lower back pain?” especially when they can’t correlate it to a specific mechanism of injury or if it has a gradual onset.
Physiotherapy can significantly increase the quality of life for people suffering from pain in their lower back region. Manual therapy techniques, exercise prescription, advice, and education play an important role in our client’s rehab and, when prescribed together, prove to provide the best outcomes overall for clients.
It is ideal to start Physiotherapy as soon as you begin to feel any symptoms of lower back pain; this helps reduce the severity of the discomfort and get you back to being pain-free quicker. This article will help you understand what causes back pain in lower back areas and what Physiotherapy can do to help manage it.
Why Do I Have Lower Back Pain?
At Barefoot Physiotherapy, clients present with lower back pain from a variety of underlying causes. Your Physiotherapist aims to not only relieve your symptoms but utilise a thorough assessment to determine the underlying cause and to help prevent the back pain from reoccurring.
When clients ask us, “why do I have lower back pain?” we will start with taking a thorough past and current medical history, including any previous aches/ pains or injuries to the body. This helps your Physiotherapist understand what condition your body is in, walking in the door.
Sore lower back causes are often related to a history of tight/reduced hip range, sore or weaker glute muscles, reduced ability to activate core muscles, and accumulated strain on the body. However, these issues might not be the cause if the client has had a direct, forceful mechanism of injury to the lower back, for example, a fall or a rugby tackle. Individuals with pain in their lower back may feel any of the following symptoms: a general ache in the muscle or joint, tightness throughout the back region, sharp/ pulling pains with movement, and it can affect the client’s ability to move freely, i.e. walking, sitting and running.
Common Backache & Pain Causes
The following section lists some of the main musculoskeletal causes of back discomfort that clients present with at Barefoot Physiotherapy.
- Accumulative strain injury (reduced movement range or strength in hips, thoracic and lower back)
- A reduced range of motion throughout the hips, lower back, and thoracic region can build up tightness in these regions.
- If there is movement restriction, you are more likely to overstretch yourself in these positions and therefore cause yourself pain. Clients will often describe having a big day of driving or gardening and then waking up with a muscle spasm throughout their lower back. This is an example of how reduced muscle range can contribute to lower back pain. As both driving and gardening typically require 90 degrees or above hip flexion. However, if the hips are tight, they don’t have full ability to perform these tasks easily and will therefore recruit nearby muscle to assist, i.e. lower back. This overload on the muscle from a repetitive task can cause pain and discomfort.
- Acute injury to the lower back (a fall, rugby tackle, car accident etc.)
- An acute injury can cause tissue or muscle damage to the lower back region, resulting in pain.
- There are many structures in your lumbar region, including lumbar joints, discs, ligaments and muscles; injury to any one of these areas can cause pain and require Physiotherapy to reduce discomfort and restrengthen the muscles.
- Regardless of the type of injury, your Physiotherapist will determine if there are any ‘red flags’ in your presentation and recommend whether imaging or medical referral is necessary.
What Causes Back Pain in the Upper Back?
The upper back region is another common area of complaint that clients will present with at Barefoot Physiotherapy. Sedentary lifestyles and sitting jobs are a large contributor to the prevalence of upper back and neck aches.
Some of the main causes of upper back pain we find are sitting posture, length of time spent sitting, weak upper back muscles and nerve irritation. Prolonged periods of sitting can cause upper back pain as the muscles don’t get to move and, therefore, become stiff and eventually weaker. For instance, if you held your wrist in one position for multiple hours, it would also become sore. In addition, nerve irritation can also affect the upper back muscles, as when our nerves aren’t gilding well, they can cause the joints and muscles around them to tighten, which has a flow-on effect for the rest of your body. Therefore, if you are experiencing any neck or upper back discomfort, it is a good idea to get it checked by a Physiotherapist to resolve your symptoms and learn some strategies to prevent it from reoccurring.
What Causes Back Pain in the Lower Back?
When asked “what causes back pain in the lower back?” we will often start questioning what the client’s typical day of activity looks like. This helps us ascertain the reason for the build-up of pain and helps to understand the client’s individual causes of discomfort.
Similar to upper back pain, a very common reason for lower back pain is lack of movement, which leads to a build-up of tightness and irritation throughout the lower back muscles, joints and ligaments. In addition, awkward posture and positioning, which is overloading the back structures, i.e. in sitting, exercise, heavy lifting and manual labour, can cause irritation and discomfort in the area. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you consult a Physiotherapist when you first start to develop back ache symptoms to address the underlying issue.
Long Term Back Issues
Back issues can develop over a period of time due to a consistent overload on the structures of the body, or it can be from an acute specific injury to the lower back region. In both circumstances, it is imperative to receive Physiotherapy treatment as soon as possible to avoid any long term changes in muscle strength, muscle length, range of motion and nerve irritation. This article has so far discussed the most common backache pain causes that are musculoskeletal in nature; however, some causes of lower back pain can be more sinister in nature. If your symptoms don’t fit a clear musculoskeletal pattern, your Physiotherapist will likely order imaging of your back and recommend you consult your GP for other possible causes of your pain.
How Can I Reduce Pain or Discomfort in the Lower Back?
With any back pain, it is ideal to consult your Physiotherapist to have a treatment plan individualised to your injury. As a guide, your Barefoot Physiotherapy lower back pain treatment will typically include; manual therapy, advice and education, strengthening exercises, stretching or trigger point releases and self-management strategies. When reducing pain, a part of the treatment plan is helping clients understand how they can prevent their lower back discomfort from reoccurring. It is very important to ensure clients have good work postures, exercise techniques, manual loading, and heavy lifting ergonomics in this instance. When you move well, you are less likely to overload your muscles and injure yourself.
There are some typical exercises and stretches examples listed below that clients will often be prescribed for their lower back pain management; however, it is recommended your consult your health professional to decide what works best for your body.
- Glute trigger point releases with a lacrosse ball
- Glute stretches
- Hip flexor stretches
- Child’s Pose Stretch
- Deep 360-degree breathing exercises
- Pelvic tilts
- Glute activation squats
- Cat / Cow stretch
Treat Back Problems With a Physiotherapist
I hope through reading this article you have gained a better understanding of the question “why do I have lower back pain?” and feel confident to seek out professional help from your Physiotherapist to help ease your symptoms, treat the cause and get you back to living your best Barefoot Lifestyle. If you are experiencing any of the lower back pain symptoms mentioned, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the friendly team of Physiotherapists at Barefoot Physiotherapy, who can help you relieve your pain and improve your quality of life. You can give us a call on 1300 842 850 or book online.