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Low Back Pain: Important things to know

Low back pain (LBP) is thought to affect as much as 60-80% of the Western population throughout the course of their life. Many people don’t have any preceding events to cause this back pain, although specific injuries can also initiate their symptoms.

Lower back pain constitutes almost half of all chronic pain. This has a huge effect on quality of life and people with LBP tend to have more time off work and higher medical costs than those who do not have symptoms.

Sedentary lifestyles, increased body weight, reduced physical activity and poor postures are all contributing factors to LBP. Obesity rates in the western world have never been higher, and this is known to cause greater rates of musculoskeletal pain than ever before.

Back pain can strike suddenly or build up slowly over a period of time. Many people report sudden and severe onset of back pain from a seemingly innocent movement. Others find that their back aches towards the end of the workday and follows a regular pattern. Thankfully, more and more workplaces are advocating for better ergonomic set-ups in order to pre-emptively reduce the incidence of LBP amongst employees.

Dealing with back pain is complicated as there are many treatments to choose from. Unfortunately, there is rarely a miracle cure that works for everyone. What research tells us is that effective and timely advice, thorough professional assessment and a tailored exercise program shows the best outcomes in the long term.

There are some cases where your physiotherapist or doctor will suggest that you have imaging such as an x-ray or MRI. While imaging can be helpful in ruling out serious injuries it is important to realise that if everyone was to have an MRI of their spine, it is reasonable to expect that most people would have changes in the appearance of their spines, even if they don’t have any pain or other symptoms. The take-home message is that scans do not always paint an accurate picture of what is happening within a person’s back.

The back is made up of a number of different structures that work together to achieve the required movements needed to perform daily activities. With such a complex combination of tissues and joints, aches and pains can be caused by any number of structures. Keeping the muscles and joints of the spine strong and healthy can have a remarkable impact on pain levels regardless of the specific structure causing symptoms.

If you are suffering from back pain, speak to one of our physiotherapist for advice on how to best manage your symptoms.

While no one can prevent back pain with 100% certainty, keeping active, avoiding smoking and maintaining a healthy relationship with alcohol and heavy labour, can reduce your chances of having low back pain.

This information is not a replacement for proper medical advice. Make sure to speak with one of our physiotherapists for advice on your individual condition.

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre – serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.

Where is your pain really coming from?

Have you ever been to see a physiotherapist for pain in one part of your body and, when they treated you, they focused on a completely different area?

While this can be a strange experience, it can be even more puzzling when the treatment actually works.

So what is going on? Shouldn’t pain be treated where it is being felt?

When pain is felt at a different location from where the pain is being caused, this is called ‘referred pain’ and is actually more common than you think. Exactly why this happens is a little complicated, and in fact, we don’t yet understand everything about the way that pain is processed.

Pain is usually felt when something causes damage to the body, sending an electrical impulse to the brain. The brain receives this information and process it to make sense of which part of the body the signal is coming from and what kind of pain it is.

When the brain thinks that the pain is coming from a different area than where the damage or signal is actually coming from, this creates the phenomenon of referred pain.

Referred Pain

Sometimes referred pain is easy to explain, such as when a nerve becomes injured or irritated, causing the pain to be felt along the length of the nerve. This often feels like a sharp, burning pain that runs in a strip, along the skin. Other examples of referred pain are more difficult to explain and in some cases seem to defy explanation. Perhaps you have heard about the strange phenomenon of phantom pain where amputees continue to feel pain as though it was in the place where their limbs used to be.

Muscular trigger points can also cause referred pain. The mechanism behind this is a bit trickier to understand, but is thought to be explained by tight bands of muscle tissues that cause pain to be felt in predictable patterns around the body.

Other tissues of the body can cause pain to be felt in a different location

This includes discs of the spine and internal organs. Many times the internal organs can refer pain in peculiar patterns and this can actually lead to serious illnesses being mistaken for muscular aches and pains.

Kidney pain can be felt in the lower back and tragically, some people fail to recognize that they are having a heart attack because they feel pain in their neck and arm, not in their chest.

We also know that not understanding or being afraid of pain can make pain feel stronger. In rare cases, people who have pain in one hand can feel pain just by seeing their other hand moving in a mirror.

There are many other fascinating aspects to pain, and understanding how it works is an important part of managing your symptoms.

To understand how referred pain may be affecting you, chat with one of our physiotherapists who can help answer your questions.

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre – serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.

Pilates and injury prevention

Pilates is a whole body workout that is low impact and helps to tone and strengthen your body. Additionally, it can improve body alignment, posture, develop core stability, body awareness and improve neuromuscular control. All these factors are important to help prevent injuries or aid with rehabilitation after an injury.

Participating in Pilates is beneficial to all especially to help prevent injury. This is even more important for those participating in sports such as tennis, dance, soccer, footy etc. Some benefits include increased core strength and flexibility by adding an additional layer of protection and stability. It also allows athletes to move more efficiently and effectively within their sport and/or activity. When participating in Pilates, it has been proven that improved balance and co-ordination reduces the chances of injury occurring.

Pilates is also beneficial to help with general mobility, flexibility and improving your overall quality of life. It is a suitable for everyone, at all levels.

Participation in physical activity such as Pilates and other sports enhances social integration, aids in weight management, improves self-confidence, develops neuromuscular awareness and builds musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health (World Health Organization 2006).

With an increasing number of sports being promoted both in and outside of schools, we are seeing a rise in the risk of injuries. This makes injury prevention very important and beneficial for everyone of all ages and activities. Injury prevention has been proven to help with plyometrics, strength, balance and agility, all of which can be incorporated into a Pilates class.

Come along to the Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre for your individualised assessment. We’ll then get you into a suitable Pilates class, whether it’s for injury prevention, rehabilitation, or general exercise and maintenance.

You can read more about our Pilates classes here.

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre – serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.
What is referred pain?

Referred pain: What is it and how can I manage it?

What is referred pain?

Referred pain occurs when pain presents in one area but the cause and origin are located elsewhere. This occurs due to sensory nerves being impacted with too high or low a signal being sent through the central nervous system.

The central nervous system sends messages to soft tissue, bones and organs throughout the body, potentially impacting these areas. Referred pain can be reported as; an ache, deep pain, pins and needles, numbness, or as pain in a specific area. Alternatively, you may get referred pain due to muscles or even your organs.

What are the common types of referred pain?

There are common types of complaints which include referred pain, such as; headaches, low back pain and knee arthritis.
Headaches can be referred pain from tight muscles or nerves at the base of the skull, around to the top of the head, temples and the jaw with the symptoms originating from the joints or muscles within the neck.

Experiencing pain in the back of the leg could be due to the irritation of the sciatic nerve in the lower back. Alternatively, low back pain can refer into the hip, groin, leg(s) or further up your back.

Arthritic changes occur when cartilage within the joint wears away. For example; within the knee, pain can be referred around the knee or in other areas of the leg due to the exposure of nerves within these areas.

Muscles may refer pain. Typically from trigger points within the muscle belly due to overuse or underuse. This could be because of poor posture, lack of movement or abnormal movement patters. Trigger points have distinctive referral patterns throughout the body.

Organs within the body can also refer pain. This is often described as a deep ache. This pain often won’t have a set pattern and you can experience pain far away from the affected organ. For example; the heart causing pain in the neck and/ or arm.

To help find the cause or to manage your referred pain talk to your physiotherapist at Caboolture physical therapy centre who can help manage your symptoms and answer any questions that you may have.

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre – serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.
Workplace Ergonomics and your working posture

Workplace Ergonomics 101 – Your working posture

With an increasing number of jobs requiring you to sit in front of a computer for long periods of the day, it is important to address your working posture to protect your spinal health.

Here are a few simple adjustments that you can make to your workstation to help improve and protect your spinal health. Start with: 

  1. Adjusting your seat height so that your forearms can rest comfortably on the desk with your elbows at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Support your lower spine with the lumbar support of the chair sitting in the curve of your lower back.
  3. Have the screen/monitor sitting at a suitable height to prevent pushing your chin forward or having to look down to see the screen. (At a minimum, the bottom of the screen should be at eye level or slightly above).
  4. Where possible, try to have documents resting on an angled stand rather than sitting on the desk. This will prevent hunching over to read.
  5. Remember to take short breaks throughout the day. Stand up and stretch, this will assist in managing any lower back pain.

These are just a few strategies to prevent postural issues or spinal pain, our physiotherapists can offer further advice specific to each individual’s needs.

We also offer workplace ergonomic assessments, where our therapists will come to your work and assess your workstation. For more information, or to make a booking, phone one of our friendly staff on 5495 3255.

Below is an example of correct work posture:

Workplace Ergonomics 101

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre – serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.