Roughly six in ten adults get back pain every year, and of those six, three of them get back aches and pains that become chronic (meaning it lasts for more than 6 months...or more).
Thing is, pains and aches in the back can be caused by a multitude of factors and problems. Most often, pains in the back are caused by physical pains, which can be pinpointed to spinal disc issues, or spinal joint issues (vertebrae to vertebrae), back muscle problems such as muscle pull, muscle-tendon joint imbalance, or ligamental strain. If it's a pure physical (also known as biomechanical) problem, and if it's a initial/first time problem, then it becomes relatively easier to treat.
Unfortunately, what happens most of the time is that people who suffer from pain have that pain either because of a back injury or because of a long term poor posture that led to repetitive physical strain on the spine and its tissues over an extended period of time. Of course, there are times when the pain in the back can be caused by infection, inflammation and progressive diseases as well.
How long does a typical back pain last?
An acute episode can last anything from 2-3 days to weeks to lessen in its pain intensity and frequency. Chronic back pain sufferers can suffer pain for weeks and months at a go, and some have them for years.
What are the symptoms?
Lower Back Strain / Lumbar Muscle Strains
Often, back pain is caused by pulled or strained muscles and ligaments of the back. The main culprit? Sudden awkward movements or improper lifting technique of heavy...and light objects. One thing to note - back aches and pains that are in the lower back, can be traced to more lower back strain issues, nerve irritation, lumbar nerve radiculopathy and other related lower-back problems of the bones and joints.
One of a common back injury and problem is slip disc, where the
"slippage" or "bulging" of the disc between the vertebrae slides out and
compresses on the nerves that run along side it, causing "sciatica" -
radiating pain that travels and shoots down one's thighs, legs and
calves. Sometimes people report numbness, sometimes they report having
pins and needles.
Sometimes, the intervertebral disc that is located between the spinal joints get ruptured (meaning it gets broken down, destroyed) by a variety of reasons and factors. This leads to lots of inflammation, followed by heavy pain and swelling. Treatment for back pain caused by a rupture of the intervertebral disc depends largely on the cause of the injury and the patient's pain tolerance - in some cases, patients may opt for no operation, no medications, or just some medications. In severe cases, immediate emergency operations are required - of course, it depends on the physician's clinical assessment as well.
What would a typical physiotherapy session for back pain be like?
First and foremost, we would want to provide pain relief for the patient who already has back pain. For this, we may employ a variety of physiotherapy approaches in our Singapore clinic, and they may range from cold compression to decrease muscle spasms (severe muscle spasms causes very bad pain), ultrasound therapy to accelerate healing for pulled back muscles or ligaments, soft tissue management to decrease muscle spasms and knots, computerized traction to decrease the muscle spasms and tostretch the spinal joints and muscles and more, at our physiotherapist's discretion.
Once we have gotten the pain to a more manageable level, we would start with differential diagnoses to find out the exact cause and diagnoses - focusing on the core problem will be our number one physiotherapy goal. Just taking away the pain is a start, but if we don't manage the core problem, the pain will just come back in a matter of time.
You will likely undergo clinical interviews of your lifestyle, work and habits; followed by physical examination following a physiotherapy treatment plan customized to your back pain problem and causes.