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Physiotherapy for Lower Back Pain

Did you know that at least 7 out of 10 people in the world experience a lower back pain episode in their lifetime? [1]

If you are already considering for medical or surgical interventions to fix your pain, read on to find out more about how physiotherapy can help.

Why do I have low back pain?

The lower back is an important structure to protect the organs within, as well as performing everyday tasks, such as bending, lifting or twisting. Most of us will immediately think of having suffered from a disc injury or a ‘slipped disc’. Yet, there are also many structures in our lower back, such as the ligaments, facet joints, fascia, nerves or muscles. Hence, it is very likely that you could have possibly strained either of these tissues and not just the disc.

The symptoms of low back pain can range from mild-to-moderate pain to severe symptoms affecting your ability to perform even the most basic tasks. Depending on the underlying cause, common symptoms may include:

  • sharp or aching pain in the lower back

  • radiating pain to the legs

  • muscle spasm

  • pins and needles

  • numbness

  • difficulty with back movements

The good news is, most people recover with active rest and simple analgesics within 48 hours. However, if the symptoms has not resolve or has regressed, do consider speaking to a physiotherapist or medical professional for a detailed assessment.

What is active rest?

Simply put, active rest will require you to move as much as your pain can tolerate rather than complete rest in bed. In fact, long bed rest may lead to slower recovery. [2] Some activities you may consider include taking short walks, gentle back movement exercises. Do the things you enjoy but with shorter duration. Stop only if the pain is getting worse.

Do disc really slip?

We all heard of someone who has a ‘slipped disc” in their back. However, slipping a disc is actually not possible. The vertebral discs between each vertebrae cannot slip out as they are held by several layers of strong fibrocartilaginous ring. When somebody said they have a ‘slipped disc’, they mean they have injured their disc. Tears form in the outer fibrous rings causing the inner gelatinous material to leak out, irritating the surrounding back structures and triggering inflammation.

Types of disc injury

The good news again is, most disc herniations improves in six weeks to three months.[3] Having a ‘slipped disc’ should not be a condition that debilitate you for life.

Do I need an X-ray image or MRI before seeing a physiotherapist?

Our therapist will conduct a detailed assessment including your subjective history-taking and physical assessment. This will allow us to make a physiotherapy diagnosis and the associated pain-contributing factors without the need for advanced imaging [4]. Further imaging is not required at this stage. Imaging is clinically indicated only if you are not responding to therapy, or if there are suspicion of clinical RED flags which may warrant further medical intervention.

When do I need emergency help for my back pain?

Please seek immediate medical help if you develop any of the following:

  • fever,

  • loss of bladder or bowel control

  • tingling or numbness, or loss of sensation in the inner thighs and lower groin

  • difficulty walking in a straight line

How can Rapha Physiotherapy help?

At Rapha Physiotherapy, we offer evidence-based treatment options for lower back pain. Our skilled physiotherapists are able to provide a full assessment and a personalised treatment plan.

We also work closely with other medical professionals, offering you additional care services such as over-the-counter or prescribed medications for pain relief .

Managing your back pain can be a journey in itself. We would like to partner with you in this journey for better back pain relief and better health. Make an appointment with us to help you with your lower back pain management.

Rapha Physiotherapy – Empowering Lives!

[1] Thiese MS, Hegmann KT, Wood EM, Garg A, Moore JS, Kapellusch J, Foster J, Ott U. Prevalence of low back pain by anatomic location and intensity in an occupational population. BMC musculoskeletal disorders. 2014 Dec;15(1):1-1.

[2] Waddell G, Feder G, Lewis M. Systematic reviews of bed rest and advice to stay active for acute low back pain. British Journal of General Practice. 1997 Oct 1;47(423):647-52.

[3] Ming Zhong MD, Liu JT. Incidence of spontaneous resorption of lumbar disc herniation: a meta-analysis. Pain physician. 2017 Jan;20:E45-52.


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