International guidelines for the treatment of back pain make the following recommendations (which we agree with):
- Consult a health professional trained in the management of low back pain
- Try to keep active and act as usual
- Use simple analgesics (like paracetamol or ibuprofen) following the instructions on the packet and on the advice of your pharmacist
- Consider a course of spinal manipulative therapy by consulting a health professional trained and experienced in this treatment approach
- Avoid bed rest
Who can provide treatment for people with low back pain?
It is advisable to consult a practitioner with specific training in the evaluation and treatment of low back pain. In Australia, osteopaths, physiotherapists, chiropractors and medical doctors are legally allowed to perform spinal manipulation; however medical doctors do not undergo training in spinal manipulation procedures as part of their basic training. Look for a practitioner with specific training in low back pain and who stays up-to-date. Also look for a practitioner who has a lot of experience in treating low back pain.
What to avoid?
It is a good idea to check out the credentials of your practitioner, and word-of-mouth referrals are also a great way for people to receive feedback about a certain practitioner. Avoid unnecessary x-rays or treatment that is painful or prescribed too often.
Warning: symptoms you should see your health professional about
It’s rare that back pain is caused by a trauma, illness or disease – in fact, it’s only around 1-2%. Even though it’s rare, it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for tell-tale signs that let us know you should consult your doctor. Things like:
- pain in the area of the kidneys (at the back under your ribs)
- pain that you can’t relieve by changing positions
- numbness or tingling in the ‘saddle’ area (or perineum)
- weight loss that you can’t explain
- fevers, temperatures or chills
- changes to your bowel or bladder habits
- numbness or weakness in your legs, feet or toes
Back pain is usually caused by the joints and ligaments of the spine – but in many cases the exact cause is hard to figure out. What’s important is to identify if you’re doing anything to aggravate the pain and then learn how to move without pain. International guidelines also recommend a course of spinal manipulation. An experienced health professional with specific training in this area can be very helpful in terms of providing treatment and helping you learn how to move differently. Assessment and evaluation is also important in order to make sure you receive the correct treatment and to rule out rare causes of back pain that require specific medical treatment.
The osteopaths at Sydney Osteopathic Medicine have years of experience in the treatment of patients with lower back pain. We provide an osteopathic approach to each patient that incorporates the best available scientific evidence regarding the diagnosis, treatment and management of this spinal pain condition.
Phone now for a consultation on (02) 9233 2788.
We are conveniently located in the Sydney CBD, near Wynyard Train Station.