Low back pain is one of the most common complaints that GPs are presented with today. It is estimated that up to 85% of the population will suffer from low back pain at some stage in their lives. Although the vast majority make a full recovery over a three-month period, nearly 50% will have at least one recurring episode.
Risk factors which are associated with low back pain include women who have given birth more than once, physical workers whose occupation involves excessive bending, twisting and hard physical labour. Jobs that involve prolonged standing or sitting such as drivers or office-based workers are also more likely to lead to low back pain.
Osteopaths spend much of their time assessing, treating and managing low back pain due to it’s high incidence. There are many structures in the low back which can cause pain locally but can also lead to pain spreading elsewhere. More complex back issues that involve a sharp pain radiating to the leg can indicate a trapped nerve. Other symptoms such as numbness or weakness in the legs can also suggest a trapped nerve.
Low back pain can hugely vary in it’s nature. Severe low back pain can come on suddenly and render a patient almost unable to move. In such cases, a relatively minor and trivial movement such as bending over to pick something up can cause this reaction. This can be immensely frightening as well as debilitating.
More chronic issues can involve a more gradual low-grade back ache with some stiffness that is aggravated by activites such as coughing, turning in bed, sitting with bad posture or bending.
In both cases where discomfort is present, it is worthwhile a short course of osteopathic assessment and treatment to identify structures that may be failing and in need of some attention.