Every year, on the 8th of September, World Physical Therapy Day is celebrated – or for us in Australia – World Physiotherapy Day.
The theme for this year’s day is Chronic Pain, and it is a great time to reflect on the role that physiotherapy has in the raising awareness about the crucial contribution the profession makes to keeping people well, mobile and independent.
Let’s consider a number of statements, supported by scientific research, that concern low back pain:
- Across the globe, low back pain causes more disability than any other condition
- Although an X-ray, CT or MRI scan may occasionally be helpful, findings such as disc degeneration, arthritis, disc bulges and fissures are common in the pain free population and are not necessarily the reason for your pain.
- The level of pain experienced is often a poor measure of injury or tissue damage. Even if an activity is painful, it is not an accurate sign of doing harm. A physiotherapist can help develop a programme for you to move safely
- Returning to movement and work is better for recovery and preventing recurrence than bed rest. Immobility and bed rest for more than two days have never been shown to be beneficial.
- Surgery and interventional procedures (such as corticosteroid injections) have a very limited role, if any, in the management of low back pain. Only about 1-5% of low back pain is caused by serious disease or injury.
- Developing the mobility and strength to bend and lift is important - many types of exercise, including weight training, can bring great benefits.
What does this research suggest?
That consulting with a physiotherapist with experience in the management of back pain is a great place to begin the journey of gaining control over your episodic low back pain. Combining this evidence-based approach (the things that research has shown to really work in the way of treatment) with a training program that focuses on strength and mobility is the best way to effectively address low back pain and its recurrences.