Back pain is the most common problem we treat at Blundellsands and Crosby Physio. It’s a common, painful and frustrating problem and at some point we will all experience it.
The first thing that needs to be done is a careful assessment. The vast majority of back pain is not dangerous, but there are signs and symptoms that might mean your particular pain episode requires further investigation. Poor management and confusing explanations can lead to a lot of extra stress.
Assessment is important for every case but there are also special considerations for pregnancy related back pain, back pain in old age, chronic lower back pain, back pain with sciatica and for children with back pain. Essentially you shouldn’t begin a course of treatment until you have given a detailed history to your physio and been fully assessed. For this reason we insist on 45mins for new assessments at our clinic. It allows us to assess fully and begin treatment on day one. In some complex cases we may recommend 60 minutes. Please email us to discuss this in advance.
Scans for Lower Back Pain
“My pain is terrible, do you think I need a scan?”
Scans are good at doing two things when back pain is present. 1) Identifying specific or serious diagnosis, such as a fracture or cancer of the spine, and 2) helping to confirm a target for a surgical intervention. If either of these two scenarios are warranted following detailed assessment we can write a supporting letter to the GP.
We do not request scans directly from this private practice, however if you bring reports to an appointment we can help to explain the confusing medical terms often used. Scans are not good for the vast majority of back pain as pain does not show up on a scan. A scan can even be harmful as we often have normal variations and changes in our spine as we age unrelated to pain. However once you have been told they can lead to anxiety and fear of movement impacting some patients for years to come.
Treatment for back pain
“What are the best treatments for my back pain?”
The best treatment is actually the reassurance that comes from good assessment. Once things have been explained the fear factor can pass. This in turn leads to a more relaxed and positive outlook which can ease pain further. Returning to normal movements as soon as possible is a priority. Good physio is about finding the right prescription of exercise taking into consideration your ability and pain levels to help you get moving again. It can often be as simple as getting you to start walking again or performing a simple movement exercise for the spine.
Hands On Treatment
“Will you treat me hands on?”
Some people will want a hands on approach from their physio. A common phrase we hear is; “The last person didn’t even touch my back”. Well the truth is for the vast majority of back pain hands on treatment isn’t required to make a full recovery. Your previous therapist was most likely trying to help you self manage and avoid becoming dependent on them. It’s an approach we fully respect. However in a private physiotherapy clinic we believe that patients should be able to request hands on treatment for the relief of symptoms such as muscle tension and spasms if they wish.
As well as soft tissue massage for pain relief we offer a form of manual therapy know as the Mulligan Concept. This is a form of therapist directed joint mobilization combined with active patient movements. These techniques can allow a patient with a painful movement to move without pain often instantly. It does not put joints “back in” or “realign” a person. These are inaccurate descriptions of what manual therapy can actually do. We use manual therapy to ease pain and muscle tension and build your confidence by showing you that a painful movement can quickly become eased. These techniques are part of a package of care that we offer with exercise rehabilitation and advice at its core.
“How many sessions will I need?”
This is very much dictated by you the patient. Many will only need to be seen once if they feel they have the information and reassurance to self manage. That’s great, job done. Some people want to be seen a couple of times a week for some hands on symptom relief or to check in and keep their exercises on track. We can support that approach if needed. We don’t use aggressive marketing strategies or follow up targets, its all about getting good outcomes and passing the friends and family recommendation test.
Exercise for Lower Back Pain
Will I get exercises?
Exercise is the main expertise of physiotherapists. Here at Blundellsands and Crosby Physio we use an exercise prescription application called Rehab My Patient and email you exercises with videos. Usually a maximum of 3 exercises is optimal for a pain problem. This will always be discussed and agreed with busy lives taken into account.