Back Pain

Back pain is a condition that affects most people at some time during their life. Pain and stiffness in the lower back are the most frequent symptoms.

It frequently results from an injury involving a sudden movement, but can also be triggered by everyday activities at home or at work, such as :

  1. bending awkwardly
  2. standing or bending down for long periods
  3. lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling incorrectly
  4. slouching in chairs
  5. twisting
  6. coughing / sneezing
  7. over-stretching
  8. traumatic accidents
  9. sports injuries
  10. pregnancy

Sometimes pain is there on waking for no apparent reason.

Problems with the back that may lead to pain are muscle strain, ligament sprain, disc bulge with possible associated nerve irritation, sacroiliac joint dysfuntion and facet joint syndrome. In order to properly treat back pain, it is necessary to identify both the underlying cause of the pain and the part of the body from which it stems. Even though the pain may be felt in the back, the problem may originate in another parts of the body, such as the knee or ankle.

Medical investigations such as X-rays and MRI's may not pinpoint the cause of the back pain. This is where Osteopathy is very helpful. Osteopaths are able to feel misalignment in the spine and swelling in the tissues that may not show up on X-ray or MRI.

Strains and sprains

Strains and sprains are very common injuries and together account for most complaints of back pain. They are different and affect differing parts of the anatomy. A strain occurs to muscle or tendon that has been stretched too far. Damage to the muscle or tendon can result in muscle spasm, weakness and a decrease in mobility. A sprain affects the ligaments that attach bone to bone. A sprain is often more painful and serious than a strain, and can take a lot longer to heal.

Degenerative Disc Disease

The spinal discs act as spacers between the vertebrae and allow movement through the spine. These discs can become inflamed, causing pain, and may irritate the surrounding nerves.

Stiffness, pain and reduced movement of the spine may be the first signs of disc problems. Inability to bend easily and difficulty standing up from a seated position may also indicate a problem. The bodies natural response is to tighten the muscles to stabalize the area. This can lead to muscle spasms in the back. Many people suffer from this condition without knowing it, as they do not feel any pain. In other cases the pain can be quite severe.


Sciatica is fairly common, and is a symptom of lumbar vertebral disc bulge or sacroiliac dysfunction. The term Sciatica describes pain that originates in the lower back and radiates down the back or side of the leg, occasionally as far as the toes. The degree of pain can range from annoying or niggly, to agonising and disabling. Sciatica typically affects one side of the body at a time. It usually occurs in episodes, which may worsen with every attack.

Sacroiliac Joint Disfunction

The Sacroiliac joints connect the sacrum to the pelvis, and the spine sits on the sacrum. Pain may be located either to the left or right of the lower back. Symptoms may range from a stiffness that makes it difficult to stand from a seated position, through to pain that inhibits movement altogether. The pain may radiate out into the buttocks and sometimes through to the front of the pelvis and into the groin. Occasionally, there may sciatic symptoms into the lower limb. Some classsic symptoms are:

  1. difficulty in turning in bed
  2. struggling to put on shoes and socks
  3. pain in moving your legs in and out of the car
  4. stiffness in the lower back when rising from bed in the morning and when standing up from sitting for long periods

Facet Joint Syndrome

Facet joint syndrome can occur following an injury or as a symptom of diseases such as arthritis.

The facet joints are the connections between the vertebrae. They link the vertebrae, helping to support the weight of the body and keep the spine flexible, and allow the spine to bend, arch and twist. They also stop the spine from bending too far. Facet joint syndrome causes pain and stiffness in the back, including difficulties in turning to the left or right, bending and straightening. Pain may be only on one side of the spine. They muscles may also go into spasm causing sudden pain.

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