Chronic Lower Back Pain – What works?
Chronic lower back pain is becoming a big problem. In the UK, USA and Australia it is fighting to be the number 1 reason people are off work. So what is the solution? Lumbar Fusion Surgery? Although there are a number of different methods all involve joining or fusing together 2 of the bony discs in the spine so that they no longer move, the theory being that it is the movement that causes the pain. The result, of course, is a less mobile spine. Which often then places additional stress on the surrounding discs as they have to move more to compensate for those that don’t. So one surgery leads to . . . . well I guess more surgery? What is success? When you think of the criteria for successful surgery what are your definitions? No more pain? Full range of movement? Back to work? Studies show that only 32% of “successful” spinal fusion patients return to work within 2 years. A recent lawsuit in the USA deemed that lumbar fusion surgery was successful even though it left the patient paralysed from the waist down. A survey of spinal surgeons in the US asked about the use of an artificial disc. Although 75% would recommend it for their patients, only 9% would have the surgery themselves. So what are your options? Stay active – although doctors used to prescribe bed rest for back pain keeping moving stops the muscles stiffening up and causing more pain. So stay as active as you comfortably can. (marathons optional!) Ibruprofen and anti inflammatories help. Try to stay away from cortisone and steroid injections as these actually break down the discs and tissues in the spine causing long term problems. Physiotherapy – long term studies show that when it comes to those success criteria I mentioned before, no pain, full range of movement, back to work, that in the groups that had just physiotherapy (no surgery) there was a much higher success rate. And that these patients had a greater range of movement, were back to work within 6 months and had reduced pain. Here at Bodyworks I have a slightly bigger “tool box” than your standard physiotherapist, I use MRT to strengthen the discs in the spine and restore movement (rather than fuse them and reduce movement!), I combine that with techniques to combat chronic pain (and how it can result in post-surgical pain) as well as physiotherapy and a complete, whole body assessment. Surgery isn’t the only option. Or book a Free 15 minute telephone consultation to find out how we can help.
7 things your doctor didn’t tell you about back pain
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