Osteopathy and Back Pain

Back pain is a common condition and in the UK, it is the largest cause of work-related absence. Most people experience back pain at some point and it can be very uncomfortable, leading to a reduced quality of life.

Back pain is common but that doesn't mean it's normal for it to occur.

Most back pain is mechanical and comes from the muscles, discs, ligaments, and small joints. The increased incidence of back pain is directly related to our sedentary lifestyles and increased stress levels. It's no coincidence that mechanical problems occur at times of pressure or change of activity levels.

Osteopathic treatment is often the most effective first line of treatment in correcting mechanical problems causing back pain and preventing things from becoming persistent.

Back problems are often misunderstood.

Problems with your back can cause pain in areas you may not associate with coming from your back. Leg pain and buttock ache, groin pain or tingling in the toes can all come from the base of the spine. This is why a strain to a disc can be mistaken for a hamstring strain.

Conversely, a problem elsewhere in the body may give you back pain. A problem with your hip or ankle, for example, may cause you to walk differently leading to a pain in your back.

By listening to your problem we can help work out the cause of your pain. Only then can we successfully plan a course of action to get you well again.

The longer you put it off, the harder it will be to get going again.

Your back is designed for movement - the sooner you get moving and back to normal activities, the sooner you'll feel better.

Getting stiff joints and muscles working can be painful. Athletes accept that when they start training, their muscles hurt and they have to work through the pain barrier. But that does not mean they are doing any damage.

As we start to help you move your back better you should be able to do a little more each time, until you are back (excuse the pun!) doing the things you enjoy again.

X-rays and MRI scans don't usually help in mechanical back pain.

They may even be misleading and show 'degeneration' which is normal wear and tear. Even injury to a disc will rarely need to have a scan as the clinical evaluation will give us all the information we need to determine the severity of your injury. Osteopaths are trained in diagnosing all mechanical back problems and knowing when referral is appropriate. Due to our highly trained sense of touch we are well suited to diagnose your pain without the need for further evaluation.

Anxiety, stress and muscle tension - a vicious cycle.

Anxiety and stress can increase the amount of pain we feel. Pain causes tension, which can cause muscle spasm and the muscles themselves can become painful. This vicious cycle is hard to break and can actually make the problem worse.

By easing the pain and muscle stiffness, and encouraging you to use you back again, we can 'turn down the volume' on your pain and allow you to get moving again.

Remember: Hurt does not mean harm - use it or lose it!

Read the NICE Guidelines on low back pain (page 8 is relevant to us)

Click to download a printable leaflet.

“By listening to your problem we can help work out the cause of your pain. Only then can we successfully plan a course of action to get you well again.”