What causes low back pain?
The back is a very complicated structure made up of bones, muscles, nerves, discs and joints. This can often make it difficult to diagnose the exact cause of the pain. Most cases of back pain are not caused by serious damage but by minor sprains, strains or injuries, or an irritated nerve.
Back pain can be triggered by simple everyday activities, or it can develop gradually, over time. Back pain sometimes develops suddenly for no apparent reason. For example, you may wake up one morning with back pain and have no idea what has caused it.
How do we treat low back pain at the Mansfield Clinic?
Because back pain is often difficult to diagnose, it is also sometimes difficult to treat effectively. Dr Allfree has had many years’ experience in the management of people with back pain, and he will use his expertise to make a thorough assessment of your pain. Sometimes special investigations, such as an MRI scan, are needed to determine the exact cause of the pain.
Once the diagnosis has been made, Dr Allfree will suggest the most appropriate treatment, which will include one or all of the following:
Spinal surgery will only be recommended when all else has failed.
Back pain is a common problem that affects most people at some point in their life. It can range from a mild ache, tension or stiffness, to absolute excruciating agony. The pain can be triggered by bad posture while sitting or standing, bending awkwardly, or lifting incorrectly. Sometimes back pain can develop for no apparent reason.
Back pain is not generally caused by a serious condition and, in most cases, it gets better within a few weeks. It can usually be successfully treated by taking painkillers, keeping mobile, or simple manual therapy such as osteopathy.
If you are worried about your back pain, then you should seek assistance from The Mansfield Clinic. Dr Allfree has many years’ experience in treating people with low back pain, and he will discuss your back pain symptoms with you, examine your back thoroughly, and suggest a sensible treatment strategy.
The examination will usually assess your ability to sit, stand, walk and lift your legs, as well as testing the range of movement in your back. You may be asked about any illnesses or injuries you may have had in the past, as well as the type of work you do and your lifestyle.
Your back is a complex structure, so finding the exact cause of the pain can often be difficult. Here are some of the questions that Dr Allfree may well ask you:
Dr Allfree will want to make sure that your back pain is not being caused by a more serious underlying condition. He will ask you some routine questions to rule out things such as an infection or fracture, although these are very uncommon. If he thinks there may be a more serious cause, he will suggest referral for further tests, such as an x-ray or an MRI scan. These tests can all be arranged for you at the Mansfield Clinic.
You will be offered information about what you can do to reduce the effects of the pain.
Certain risk factors increase your chances of developing back pain. These include:
In a small number of cases, back pain is caused by a specific medical condition such as:
If you have back pain, you must try to remain as active as possible and continue with your daily activities. In the past, doctors recommended rest for back pain, but most experts now agree that being inactive for long periods is not good for your back. Moderate activity, such as walking or doing everyday tasks, will help speed up your recovery.
Take simple painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Hot or cold compression packs may also help reduce the pain. Purpose-made ice packs are available from The Mansfield Clinic.
Your state of mind can also play an important role. Research has shown that people who remain positive tend to recover quicker than those who get depressed.
Manual therapy, such as osteopathy, can be very helpful. For back pain that lasts more than six weeks (which doctors describe as chronic), treatment typically involves a combination of painkillers, exercises or manual therapy.
Sometimes, if the back pain is due to wear and tear change in the joints of the spine, it may not be possible to get rid of it entirely. Spinal injection therapy can be very beneficial in these cases. Also, if manual therapy has failed, it may be worth trying a course of spinal injections. Dr Allfree has had many years’ experience in performing spinal injection therapy at The Mansfield Clinic.
Spinal surgery is usually only considered when all else has failed.
You should seek immediate medical help if your back pain is accompanied by:
These are known as 'red flag symptoms' and could be a sign of something more serious.
How you sit, stand, lie and lift can all affect the health of your back. Try to avoid placing too much pressure on your back and ensure your back is strong and flexible. Regular exercise such as walking is an excellent way of preventing back pain. Activities such as Yoga or Pilates can improve your flexibility and strengthen your back muscles.