Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common problems that osteopaths evaluate and treat. It is estimated that 80% to 90% of adults will experience an episode of acute back pain at least once during their lifetime.

Many cases of back pain in adults are age-related degenerative processes, physical loading, muscular or ligamentous injures.

If you are suffering from back pain, remember that early treatment and advice often leads to a quicker recovery and reduces the risk of recurrence.

A few tips:

  • Continue with normal activities as much as possible. You may have to accept a certain level of discomfort but do not continue if it causes a great deal of pain. You are less likely to develop chronic back pain if you keep active when you have back pain, as opposed to resting too much.
  • Try setting new goals each day.
  • Sleep in the most comfortable position, there is no significant evidence to suggest that a firm mattress is better than any other mattress for people with low back pain.
  • Seek medical advice immediately if you experience any numbness around the anus, loss of bladder sensation or control, incontinence or loss of sensation when passing urine.

Screening for medical disease is an important part of the osteopathic evaluation process, and continues throughout any episode of care. A history of cancer, however long ago, is very important.

Osteopaths are trained to recognise the most common ‘red flags’ associated with back pain of a systemic origin, these include:

  • Age less than 20 or over 50
  • Previous history of cancer
  • Constitutional symptoms (unexplained weight loss, chills, fever)
  • Recent Urinary Tract Infection
  • Failure to improve with conservative care (usually 4-6 weeks)
  • Pain that is not relieved by recumbency or rest
  • History of injection drug use
  • A poor immune system
  • Severe, constant night pain
  • Progressive, neurologic deficit, saddle anaesthesia
  • Back pain accompanied by abdominal, pelvic or hip pain
  • Significant morning stiffness
  • Skin rash