Approximately eighty percent of the population will experience an episode of low back pain during their lives. Most get better within a few weeks, but symptoms in many continue for many years after the initial problem. Their life and that of their family are often changed forever as they struggle to maintain a normal life.
Why does pain persist?
If you damage the back the body will go through a repair process and within weeks you should be feeling much better. But what if you don’t feel better and the pain continues? During the episode of pain the body compensates and changes position to try and maintain some function i.e we limp. The brain picks up on this new pattern and we learn it. Hence pain persists as we limp along.
Fear and pain
Pain is a frightening experience and the brains first response is to not move. This is entirely normal for a few days but if you are still doing this six months later you are in trouble! Many things increase this fear and what you are told can make us worse. For example, ‘your pelvis is dislocated’, ‘five discs have popped out of place’, ‘your spine is out of place, ‘one leg is longer than the other’. All these explanations I hear on a regular basis but they are wrong and only cause you to feel even more frightened.
What treatment works?
Passive treatments such as manipulation, massage and acupuncture have no long term benefit in chronic low back pain. The latest research suggests that changing how a person uses their back and reducing fear avoidance gives the best results.
What does the Hallamshire Physiotherapy clinic do?
We treat many people who have chronic low back pain but have not improved with other forms of therapy. We activate people and start changing how you walk, run and move in your normal activities. Returning you back to what you want to do is the key in rehabilitation. Giving you the tools to change this is fundamental to recovery.
Remember the body is stronger than some would have us believe. Come for an assessment and see what we can do together to change you. Don’t live with chronic pain and disability.
Steve Hodgson explains the problem of the belief about the ‘short leg’ and how this fear can actually delay recovery.