Back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor or miss work, and it is a leading cause of disability worldwide. Fortunately, you can take measures to prevent or relieve most back pain episodes. If prevention fails, simple home treatment and proper body mechanics often will heal your back within a few weeks and keep it functional. Surgery is rarely needed to treat back pain.
Back pain can range from a muscle aching to a shooting, burning or stabbing sensation. In addition, the pain may radiate down your leg or worsen with bending, twisting, lifting, standing or walking.
In ideal posture, we would keep our ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles aligned. Poor posture or postural dysfunction occurs when our spine takes on a misaligned position such as the head forward, shoulders rounded or low back excessively curved leaving the hips behind the knees. When the body is misaligned or in poor posture, it puts stress on the joints and soft tissues around the spine and can also end up affecting the rest of the body. Today, the most common causes of poor posture are a stationary lifestyle at a desk or in front of electronics. There is also the added problem of increased time spent with our heads tipped down looking at phones and tablets. Our bodies are spending way too much time in a hunched over position. When we are in poor postures, some muscles can become lengthened and others shortened. When we spend too much time here, these changes to muscle length can become more permanent, resulting in muscle tension and inability to produce proper contractions. Joints can also become stiff. The result is that movement mechanics can be altered and weaknesses can result. All of these factors can lead to stress in the area, resulting in inflammation, pain, spasm and reduced mobility. Postural dysfunction is found to be at the root of many injuries including, but not limited to: back and neck pain, shoulder injuries, knee pain, hip pain, pinched nerves and osteoarthritis. It will be important to have your injury properly assessed to determine if postural dysfunction is present and how it can be corrected. Your Physiotherapist or Athletic Therapist can help you correct your posture before it leads to more pain and difficulty. They can provide manual therapy to correct muscle tension and joint restriction as well as exercises to reinforce these things and education regarding maintaining better posture in your lifestyle. Treatment and exercises will include retraining muscles to load properly while reducing the compensations and strains. Customized strengthening exercises and stretches will be prescribed to bring your body back to optimal alignment and function. Registered Massage Therapy can also help by loosening tight areas and working through restrictions in tissues and movement. As with all injuries, this information is simply a guide, and it is always best to check in with a Physiotherapist or Athletic Therapist to have a personalized assessment and hear recommendations for what you and your body may specifically need.