Low back pain can happen suddenly (acute) or gradually over time. There are many structures that are potential sources of pain in the back, including: facet joints, discs, nerves, ligaments and muscles. You may also experience leg pain, pins and needles or numbness with your back pain.
It is important that you see a physiotherapist back pain is managed in its early stages to prevent it becoming chronic (long standing).
Physiotherapy treatment of low back pain will depend on your specific pain and presenting symptoms, however it may include soft tissue therapy, joint mobilisation, neurodynamic techniques, exercises to strengthen and increase the movement of the back, ergonomic advice and ultimately, your return to sport or activity.
Sciatica is a type of back pain that causes pain to radiate from your lower back down one or both of your legs. Sciatica is caused by a buildup of pressure on the sciatic nerve. The type of pain varies between people, however it is common to experience sharp radiating pain which may limit your ability to move and reduce the strength of your legs. It is important to be assessed by a physiotherapist to determine where the pressure on your nerve is originating from. Manual therapy techniques are helpful to increase the movement of your lower back, and are used in conjunction with stretches and exercises to get you moving quicker and feeling stronger.
A disc is a structure that sits between the bones of the back (vertebrae) and its role is to enhance spinal movement and absorb and transmit force. The disc has a fibrous, sturdy outer layer and an inner core made up of 80% water.
Discs are at the most risk of injury when there is excessive force being transmitted through them and this depends on their location in the spine. In the lower back (lumbar spine) bending and twisting activities, particularly when there is an added weight (e.g. lifting) are some common movements that can place risk on the lumbar disc.
Common symptoms of disc injuries are pain, immobility and compensatory muscle spasm. Your physiotherapists have detailed expert knowledge to assess, diagnose and manage your disc injury and treatment may involve soft tissue work, joint techniques, mobilising and strengthening exercises.
Spondylolysthesis is a spinal injury where one of your vertebrae slips forward on the one below it. If the vertebra slips too far forward it can put too much pressure on your nerves which can cause lower back pain and or radiating leg pain.
Sports, including gymnastics, AFL, cricket and soccer, that put excessive pressure on the lower back can increase your risk for developing spondylolisthesis. Physiotherapy is helpful to diagnose, assess and manage your symptoms. Your physiotherapist will give you advice and education in regards to managing your condition, as well as provide targeted strengthening exercises to provide better support around your lower back and core.