Back Pain Chelmsford
Most of us will experience lower back pain at some point in our lives – at least 80% of us will have a significant episode of low back pain at least once. It can be very worrying when back pain strikes out of the blue, but in most cases the cause is not serious and symptoms will improve in a couple of weeks. Pain that settles within 6 weeks is referred to as acute pain and pain that lasts 12 weeks or more is called chronic. When pain does not settle quickly it can start to impact our daily lives, work, family commitments and hobbies.
The lumbar spine is made up of the five lowest vertebrae in the spine which connect with the sacrum and works closely with the two pelvic ilium bones. Discs are our shock absorbers and they sit between the vertebrae. Facet joints each side connect the vertebrae and there are many deep ligaments, tendons, connective tissues, blood vessels and nerves surrounding the joints of the spine which can become inflamed and painful when they are irritated or injured.
It can sometimes be difficult to clinically identify a single particular cause of back pain, and it can be referred to as “non-specific”. Another term is “mechanical” back pain, in other words arising from muscles, joints, ligaments, discs or nerves around the spine.
Characteristics of mechanical lower back pain are:
- Pain can come on suddenly or creep up on us gradually.
- Pain can be described as dull, sharp, aching, vague or specific, burning or stabbing. It can stay localised or can refer either side to the buttocks or top of the thighs.
- Symptoms can be aggravated by movement or particular positions.
- Stiffness or restricted movement can be associated.
- Pain can be caused by something obvious for example lifting something heavy, twisting awkwardly or sitting for long periods in an uncomfortable chair.
- Pain can equally come on for no obvious reason and this can be a result of a cumulative build-up of many minor stresses and strains which we are often unaware of day to day, but which can suddenly result in back pain.
Examples of mechanical back pain:
- Acute back pain
- Chronic back pain
- Muscle strains
- Ligament sprains
- Prolapsed or herniated discs,
often referred to as “slipped” discs
often referred to as “wear & tear”
- Nerve pain including sciatica
How can osteopathy help?
Many people seek help from osteopaths to address their pain more quickly so they can get on with their lives. Osteopaths are highly skilled at diagnosing and treating many causes of lower back pain. At Oaklea Osteopathy in Chelmsford, Essex, experienced osteopath Amanda Miles will assess you fully by taking a detailed case history and examining you. Often patients are reassured by finding a diagnosis and understanding what is happening. Gentle treatment is always followed by advice about ways you can help things along at home, and where appropriate exercises are also provided. Treatment can help resolve a straightforward problem within 2-3 weeks, many problems are helped within 4-6 weeks, but sometimes it can take longer. In general terms simple muscle strains heal quicker than ligament, disc or nerve problems. Amanda will always try to give you an idea of how long your particular problem may take to settle, but please bare in mind that how quickly we heal is influenced by many factors such as lifestyle, existing levels of fitness and our general health.
Occasionally, there may be a need to refer you back to your GP if Amanda thinks you may benefit from further investigation or tests, but this will be discussed with you. Many episodes of mechanical back pain do resolve with manual therapy, advice and exercises without any need for onward referral.