Back pain is a very common problem with almost 8 out of ten of us suffering from it at some point during our lives. Around 5.6 million working days in the UK are lost each year due to back pain, second only to stress.
Back pain can affect anyone at any age, and can often be the result of a sprain or a strain of the structures of the your back, such as the muscles, ligaments, joints or damage to the discs. Osteoarthritis or wear and tear in the back can also be a reason.
Most of us know that back pain can be painful and inconvenient, but it’s not usually serious and will often resolve on its own within a few weeks. However, many people seek osteopathic treatment to address it quickly and at a time and place of their own choice. As experienced osteopaths, we are skilled at helping prevent your back pain from becoming a chronic, long-term condition.
There are 2 common causes of back pain, in the absence of any underlying illness.
Firstly - you can have a joint strain where you suddenly get pain in the back from getting up or twisting in the car; usually with no previous back problems. This is called fact joint irritation and can be incredibly painful, but not serious at all. Facet joint problems - about 70% of our patients who visit The Spine Health Centre - respond well to manipulation and are oftentimes better within a week or so.
Secondly - you can have a strain to the shock absorbing discs between each of your bony vertebrae. This can cause the well known expression "slipped disc", they do not slip, but the centre of the disc can bulge out the back and pinch nerves causing pain, numbness, "pins & needles" and or muscle weakness. These disc bulges can take many weeks to settle down, but it is important to get the right diagnosis because accidental manipulation of the discs, due to a miss-diagnosis of facet joint irritation can make the back even worse.
The only real assessment for seeing whether there is a disc problem or not is MR scans. Then the good news is that most disc problems are managed without surgical intervention. We at the Spine Health Centre specialise in the management of disc bulges and the common associated problem - disc wear and tear (degeneration). It is a fact that we get shorter as we get older, partly due to the discs wearing and getting thinner.
Please see these videos below to help you understand back problems. Usually for simple joint strains (Facet Joint Syndrome) the symptoms are in just a local area, albeit very painful. For disc disease then symptoms are much more widespread including down legs.
Osteopathy uses manual methods of treatment, consisting of soft tissue massage, repeated movements of the joints, and if appropriate, manipulation, where the joints go "click" - which is often painless. We use these techniques as they are a safe and effective treatment approach.