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Lower back pain treatment – Tips from a physiotherapist

Callum O’Brien, a New South Wales physiotherapist, explains 80% of the population will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their life, commonly, people over 50 years of age.

Low back stretch (Source: Pinterest)

Causes
According to Mr. O’Brien lower back pain is caused by poor load transfer through the spine and is a result of:

  • Low activity levels
  • High volumes of sitting
  • Not maintaining a balance between sitting and standing

Lower back pain prevention
When asked about what not to do in the case of lower back pain, Mr. O’Brien stated that ignoring the signs of the onset is the worse thing you can do. “Don’t let it develop into something worse”. Therefore it is important to focus on preventative measures such as “maintaining flexibility and strength by staying active”.

Lower back pain treatment
In some cases, lower back pain is not simply localised pain in the back. In chronic cases, described by Mr. O’Brien as “longer than six months”, the ache may involve discomfort down one or both legs. Mr. O’Brien advises treatment for lower back pain using any of the following methods:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Osteopathy
  • Medical therapy

Improving Posture
Furthermore, Mr. O’Brien suggests improving posture is a key treatment method, which can be undertaken individually, with instructions given by a health professional such as a physiotherapist, by:

  • Trunk stability exercises
  •  Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Strength programs

Back pain and the office
As many lower back pain sufferers tend to be people with office jobs, which involve high volume sitting, Mr. O’Brien was asked for any recommendations for dealing with lower back pain in the work environment. He gave the following advice:

  • Ensure the work station is examined by an occupational therapist (or designated workplace safety assessor)
  • Modify the workstation if need be
  • Break from sitting regularly and try to mix standing and working into your work day

Research
There has been significant research about the negative effects of prolonged sitting on your health. James A. Levine, M.D, Ph.D, from the Mayo Clinic, USA, has gone one step further, stating, “If you work at a desk for long periods of time, try a standing desk – or improvise with a high table or counter”.

If you are interested in finding out more on standing desks, click here.

standing vs sitting at work

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