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Lower Back Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Back pain is amongst the most common complaints we see at our physiotherapy clinic. While many people will experience some form of back pain in their lifetime, a substantial amount of Canadians continue to live with chronic pain that may interfere with their ability to work or enjoy their favourite activities. 

The low back or the lumbar region is particularly susceptible to pain. It starts below the ribcage and can radiate to the buttocks and the back of the thighs.

In this blog, we'll discuss the common causes for lower back pain, symptoms, when back pain is serious and how physiotherapy can improve your condition. 

What causes lower back pain?

Lower back pain can come about suddenly or creep up on you over the years. The most common cause of lower back pain is usually strain in the back muscles or a ligament, either from over-training or trauma to the region. 

Muscle strains happen when a muscle is stretched too far past its flexibility and tears, creating damage in the muscles. Back pain may arise if there's damage to the spine, resulting in the compression of nerves or the improper alignment of spinal joints. 

Common lower back pain causes include:

  1. Poor posture over time
  2. Sports injuries
  3. Motor vehicle accidents
  4. Lifting a heavy object with poor form
  5. Fractures
  6. Osteoporosis
  7. Scoliosis
  8. Auto-immune diseases
  9. Degenerative disc diseases
  10. Facet joint dysfunction
  11. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction 

Which symptoms are related to lower back pain

The low back consists of interconnecting vertebrae, joints, nerves, muscles and ligaments, that work together to provide support and movement to the lower half of the body. However, this complex structure is also susceptible to dysfunction and injury. 

Chronic lower back pain often starts as acute pain. If left unattended over time, it can lead to more persistent problems. 

Some common symptoms of low back pain include:

  1. Pain that radiates to the buttocks, pelvis, legs and feet
  2. Dull, aching pain 
  3. Restricted movement
  4. Muscle spasms 
  5. Difficulty sitting for long periods
  6. Stiffness in the back in the morning

Some alarming signs to look out for when suffering from an injury to the low back include:

  1. Sexual dysfunction
  2. Loss of bladder/bowel control
  3. Fevers
  4. Blood in urine or stool
  5. Weakness or numbness in the legs
  6. Severe stomach pain

If you experience any of these red flag signs, you should visit your doctor immediately to diagnose the root cause of the problem. 

Which treatments can help treat lower back pain?

Luckily, most back pain can be managed effectively without medication or invasive surgery with physiotherapy treatments. 

All physiotherapist treatments begin with a thorough assessment of the cause of the pain, your current lifestyle and your wellness goals. From here, your physiotherapist will create a customized treatment plan that will be tailored to provide you with long-lasting relief. 

Physio treatment aims to help you feel better now and improve your movement habits to prevent future pain and injury. 

Let’s go over the common in-clinic treatments for lower back pain:

Shockwave Therapy

Your physio may use a tool that sends an acoustic wave with high-energy frequencies to the affected muscles to stimulate the body's natural healing processes, helping repair damaged soft tissues and bones. 

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is a popular physio treatment known for its relaxation and its pain-relieving benefits — especially when it comes to deep muscle tension. Massage treatments help improve blood circulation, range of motion and encourages the body’s natural healing process in the worked areas. 

Trigger Point Needling

Trigger point needling involves inserting fine needles through the skin to target myofascial trigger points to release tension. It allows certain muscle groups to relax, providing pain relief and increased mobility in the affected areas. 

Get relief from your lower back pain today 

Depending on your situation with lower back pain, your physiotherapy treatment plan may include a combination of the therapies listed above, along with education to help you take control of your health outside the clinic. 

At Emerald Hills Physio & Sport Clinic, we believe that patient education is a critical part of long-term recovery success. 

No one should have to live with back pain. If you're ready to take the next steps to improve your mobility and eliminate pain, contact us at 780-417-5500 or connect with our team to answer any questions.