Without doubt, back pain is the most common reason people seek help from us.  Every week we treat dozens of patients with back pain that is affecting their everyday activities, work, fitness routine and sport.
We are always learning and updating our knowledge on the best treatment methods for back pain. Our fantastic physiotherapist Jen Sartor recently completed her Spinal 1 course, and we are both heading back to Melbourne in June to find out about some exciting developments in the treatment of low back pain.
Underpinning treatment for all back pain patients are four basic steps which must be followed. If you are having trouble with your back you can use these steps as a guide when you are seeking help.

Step 1: Rule out a serious cause for your back pain
Each year there are a small number of patients for whom we cannot make sense of their back pain.  Our nervous system is not wired perfectly and sometimes our brain cannot tell if a problem is coming from the lower back, a kidney stone, or abdominal problem.  Now these are only a very small percentage of back pain patients, but it is important to check and rule out these “other” problems – an experienced, trained physiotherapist knows which questions to ask and which patients to look out for to help rule out these problems.

Step 2: Work out if you have true sciatica or not
Sciatica is misunderstood by many people – just because you have leg pain does not mean you have sciatica. True sciatica refers to compression or irritation of one or more spinal nerves and produces pain of a characteristic quality, plus a positive test in at least one of the four established physical tests for sciatica.  The reason we check for this carefully is that there are only a handful of problems that produce true sciatica, so it narrows down our search significantly.  Often we can work this out through your history and physical examination, but sometimes we might need an MRI to confirm.

Step 3: If you don’t have sciatica, what do you have?
Most back pain patients don’t have sciatica, so then we work out what type of back problem you do have.  There are five main problems that we see in our clinic regularly and we have clear treatment systems for all of these to help our patients feel better and return to normal.  It is important to understand that treatment should be matched to you and your back problem, as generic treatment produces mixed results.

Step 4: Develop a treatment plan
Once we understand the cause of your back pain we can get on with the task of fixing it! For most patients this requires a course of treatment, not just one or two appointments.  Think about it this way – if you have put up with pain or stiffness for weeks, months or even years, it is going to take some work to get you and you back moving and feeling better.

This is where a clear plan helps – every new patient of our practice receives a written treatment plan for their recovery which outlines the direction of treatment, activities you should avoid, home exercises and a date to check your progress to make sure you ARE getting better – which is, after all, what its all about.

If you are struggling with your lower back, or know someone who is, please call us – we can organise an appointment on a day and time that works for you, where one of our experienced physiotherapists will help you understand the cause of your problem and help you take the first step to recovery.