Lower Back Pain: Prevention & Treatment Options

Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most common problems for people presenting to us in the clinic. It is a leading cause of disability worldwide, and the most commonly reported chronic condition in Ireland. Most LBP episodes have a good prognosis, where considerable improvements can be seen in 6-12 weeks. However, the recurrent nature of LBP can be very frustrating for patients. Many think that their back is weak or vulnerable as a result of prior episodes and very often avoid activities or movements they associate with pain. This can predispose them to recurrent episodes, and it does not promote return to normal movement and function following an episode. 

So, how can we best manage LBP in the short term?

Current guidelines suggest a multimodal approach. Treatments with consistent evidence supporting their use include 

1) exercise

2) manual therapy, and 

3) patient education. 

No single treatment option is clearly superior to another
(JOSPT, 2021:51(12):628)

What should I do now?

Don’t panic. Increased stress and anxiety can change movement patterns and increase muscle guarding. 

Move. Gentle movement can help reduce pain and encourage healing.

Medicate. Talk to your GP or pharmacist about medications that can help. 

Make an appointment with a Chartered Physiotherapist who can help.

What can help prevent future episodes of LBP? 

Research has found that exercise when combined with education is effective in reducing the risk of a future episode (Steffens et al, 2016), as well as reducing or helping prevent future LBP intensity and disability in the short term (De Campos et al, 2020). 

Aerobic activities like walking, running or swimming have some evidence to suggest they can help in the recovery of LBP. They may also be important steps into getting you active and moving again, and preventing any activity avoidance. Pocovi et all (2021) found that alternative interventions such as stabilisation exercises, physiotherapy and general exercise were more effective in reducing pain intensity in the short and medium term.

Remember, being active and engaging in any physical activity is better than doing nothing; no matter what type of activity you choose! 

Call us today on 091 769912 to book an appointment with one of our Chartered Physiotherapists to find out how best to manage your current LBP, or decrease the risk of future episodes.