Low Back Pain – Best advice to stop it and to prevent it recurring, from an expert osteopathFear of Low Back Pain…. and fear of it coming back. I’m always humbled with respect for my patients who describe how this sits in their mind, causing him or her to reduce the number of things that they dare do in life. It means that enjoyment of leisure time, family events, sport and hobbies are all curtailed. Life, as it was once known, is lived in a box.
Your Osteopath can help – both for now and for the future.
AND THIS IS THE IMPORTANT POINT. Osteopathy is a Whole-body and Whole-life approach. Sure, we are very (very) good at ‘freeing up’ joints’ – but what then? A really good therapist will always want to give you the tools to get on top of the problem – yourself
Would you like ‘Therapy’, or ‘Personal Care’?
There has been a vogue, particularly in London, for NON-osteopath therapists to have lunchtime walk-in clinics. You turn up, lie down, have some kneeding from a big guy, then a clicker comes in and does 3 thrusts, at the neck , thoracic spine, and lumbar spine. Then you pay and go back to work.
Ok – so this in/out approach suits some busy people, particularly if they have no time to engage with the problem that is developing.
I suggest get value from your visit. See an Osteopath. Discuss fears and ambitions. Talk about where you would like to be with your spine in 1, 3, 5 years from now.
Formulate a plan that you take with you on the journey to having an active, fun life!
Here are my Top 10 Tips for you to Beat Your Own Low Back Pain!
Firstly, for when your back is actually in a Bad Phase.
This is a MULTI-MODAL APPROACH. Work in conjunction with your Osteopath. He/she will test for underlying conditions, assess your body and provide some early pain relief. The next few days are critical for allowing the body’s natural healing processes to occur. Dr Damon Murgatroyd will often suggest during this time:
- Allow time for it to settle. Often 12-24 hours of reduced stress and commitment to do things is enough.
- Analgesics (pain-killers) as appropriate. Pain, who needs pain? With lowered pain, spasm and misery reduce, you get a better night’s sleep and wake up more refreshed.
- ‘Artful Resting’ – My term for having the balance right between being on the move, and pausing to reduce mechanical stresses. The now classic advice of ‘keep on the move’ is unsophisticated. You are allowed to potter about for a while, then sit, prop or lie down off and on. Just don’t spend all day in bed!
- Keep your exercises appropriate to the stage of recovery you are at. Do not try to beat the pain into submission! Your Osteopath is well-placed to give information on this.
- Be honest, not brave. Tell your partner, family, boss and work colleagues that you are suffering – and elicit their help and support. This kind of assistance from those around you can often allow for quicker healing. The converse is that you plough on, become worse, and then are off sick – which those around you definitely don’t want.
Secondly, there is that time BETWEEN bad phases
- Variety of activity is good – particularly as the last of the Bad Phase is settling. By this I mean that movements and exercises should include lots of different directions of bend and stretch. Probably 90% of everything we do at home and at work (think of child- caring and desk posture) is in one main direction – bent forward. Where are the side-bends, extensions (backward actions) and rotations? Our bodies adapt to what we ask of them, so re-condition to include all of these forgotten actions.
- Build up general fitness over weeks to months. People have different degrees of starting fitness, but if you’ve been hampered by low back pain for months or even years, your body will take time to acclimatise.
- Find something ‘sporty’ that you actually like to do. Some prefer land based, others to be in the water. Some operate best solo, others with a friend/buddy, and others in a group. Another consideration is whether you relate best to one-to-one coaching, a team leader, or self-directed such as from the internet or a DVD. Dance, Pilates, Tai-Chi, Yoga and Wii-Fit (remember them?) all count. Walking is very 2-dimensional – see the point above about variety – its not forbidden, but add it to your once or twice a week general sporting interest.
- The uk government physical activity guidelines suggests: Adults, Guidelines 16-64 year olds, should aim to be active daily. Over a week, activity should add up to at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate intensity activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more – one way to approach this is to do 30 minutes on at least 5 days a week.
- My take on that last point is, that for busy people, to have a routine of one ‘Premier Activity’ eg group session/class per week, and 2 or 3 lesser demand activities per week such as walking or cycling. Add in more as you gain confidence. The good thing is that YOU have control.
There are many variations of how your personal lumbar pain expresses itself. It can be associated with referred pain – into the buttock or leg – but not all such discomfort is due to a classic disc protrusion. Repeated strain to soft tissues in the lower back can mimic elements of sciatica, and this is called ‘mechanical’, or ‘non-radicular’ pain. This mechanical pain is eminently treatable by a registered osteopath, supported by self-management principles outlined above.
I feel confident that this list of 10 suggestions for looking after your lumbar pain will not be a million miles away from how you would want to keep on top of things yourself. Merely I have rationalized the approach as a doctor who has developed a special interest in spine and joint care. I am amazed at how much Osteopathy has to offer patients who wish to work as a collaborator in their management plan.
Osteopaths are trained in dealing with musculo-skeletal problems of many types. You do not need to see your GP before booking. However, we do work closely with our GP colleagues who, in an holistic sense, are the bedrock of you and your family’s general health. If you do have any concerns about your the state of your spine it is entirely appropriate to discuss it with both your GP and your osteopath.
Please – visit me, Dr Damon Murgatroyd. I’ve had 25-30 years of experience as both an Osteopath, technique tutor, family doctor, and have worked in hospital rheumatology and orthopaedic clinics. I have medical Diplomas in Musculo-Skeletal Medicine and Care of the Elderly. In addition, I have active involvement in Music and Performance Arts.