One of the most common lower back complaints at Acland Street Physiotherapy is symptoms of a pinched nerve. This is a condition where lower back pain occurs as a result of a nerve in the lower spine is being compressed by a nearby bone or soft tissue structure. The pressure from the pinch may causes pain, numbness, burning or tingling in the lower back, legs or feet. Some people may also call this condition "sciatica".
The common causes of this condition are:
Often such conditions do not need further x-rays, CT scans or MRIs and respond extremely well to physiotherapy treatment, which may include manual therapy, heat therapy, dry needling, postural taping, pain and postural education and a specific exercise program.
It is important to note that you should seek emergency medical attention or see your doctor if:
Low back pain (LBP) and associated sciatica (leg symptoms originating from the lower back) is the leading reason why the local residents of St Kilda visit Acland Street Physiotherapy.
Low back pain affects 60-80% of the population (see reference) throughout their lifetime. According to multiple recent studies, about 10% of the population are physically disabled by low back pain.
Low back pain is usually characterised into 3 types:
1. Acute - Symptoms experienced for less than 6 weeks.
2. Sub-acute - Symptoms experienced between 6-12 weeks.
3. Chronic - Symptoms experienced for greater than 6 weeks.
At Acland Street Physiotherapy, we commonly see patients in all 3 categories with both the acute and chronic categories being the most functionally debilitating for our patients.
Non-specific or mechanical lower back pain accounts for approximately 90% of the cases of low back pain presentations in primary care, that is seen by physiotherapists. 10% are generally more serious medical conditions that need urgent medical intervention.
Very occasionally at Acland Street Physiotherapy are we presented with more serious medical conditions associated with low back pain symptoms. In such cases, we generally refer these patients directly for further diagnostic imaging or back to their primary GP for further investigations.
Through taking the patients history and physical testing, physiotherapy assessments aim to rule out the unlikely chances of a more serious medical condition or emergency. In addition, it aims to identify the impairments and likely causes that may have contributed to the pain and the likelihood of the lower back condition becoming persistent.
From our many years of experience, non specific low back pain is commonly caused by disorders of the neural or musculoskeletal structures of the lumbar spine, which often responds well to physiotherapy treatment and advice.
Diagnostic imaging (ie. x-ray, CT scan or MRI of the lumbar spine) are generally not recommended in the first month of lower back pain and only when more serious medical conditions are suspected.
Sciatic or leg pain originating from the lower back condition is a common presentation. Like low back pain, it is often due to disorders of neural or musculoskeletal structures of the lumbar spine assessed by a physiotherapist. In addition, low back pain is generally caused by the result of such structures.
International clinical guidelines recommend non-pharmacological management of non-specific low back pain which is commonly physiotherapy treatment. Physiotherapy treatment often involves manual therapy to alleviate the symptoms and encourage movement, therapeutic exercises, personalised education and supportive taping. Prevention of lower back pain recurrence involves the physiotherapist to devising an individualised exercise program for you to target the specific issues assessed, as well as to improve general health and wellbeing. This could involve a home exercise program, supervised gym program, recommending pilates or yoga classes, or a gym and swimming program.
Learn about some self help exercises for your low back here.
When done with correct technique and form, deadlifts are the "king of all exercises" as they traditionally say! I highly recommend that non-body builders and non-hardcore gym-goers should also consider adding these potentially powerful exercises to your exercise regime, to enjoy a diverse range of health benefits. This does not exclude those who suffer from chronic diseases or health conditions such as lower back pain, arthritis, diabetes type II, heart conditions, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer, high blood pressure and chronic pain.
The key reasons why I believe these exercises are unparalleled in terms of health benefits which are well documented in scientific research include:
1. They work out the most muscle groups at the same time of all strength exercises associated with weights.
2. As a result, they burn significant more calories, saving you time at the gym or at home.
3. They can in fact improve your core stability and posture when done correctly..
4. They can significantly improve your grip strength which results in performing your activities of daily living involving lifting and carrying with more ease.
5. They promote natural testosterone and human growth hormone production, promoting soft tissue healing, bone strength, muscle growth and weight loss. These hormones are critical to the healthy functioning of both females and males.
6. They can improve your running performance and efficiency, improve your ability to perform in sporting activities, even if you are a "weekend warrior"!
7. They provide a healthy stimulation to your neural system, improving your general functional strength and stamina.
8. Interestingly, deadlifts can also improve your cardiovascular or aerobic fitness.
Nonetheless, I do often see presenting at Acland Street Physiotherapy with patients suffering from lower back injuries associated with doing with deadlifts incorrectly - the clinical diagnoses range from muscle strains, sciatic nerve irritations, facet joint sprains, sciatica to slipped lumbar disc prolapse injuries.
There are many YouTube videos available online with "experts' showing how to perfect the deadlift technique however, I would highly recommend that you make a booking with a sports or musculoskeletal physiotherapist. An experienced physiotherapist will perform a comprehensive physical examination on you, take your medical history, before teaching you the appropriate form and technique, that is individualised to your personal needs. Each individual's anatomy and movement skills vary so it is important to get assessed properly by an expert.