Back pain is one of the most commonly treated conditions we see at Activate Physiotherapy. Emily Phillips is a physiotherapist at our Gumdale clinic. She share her answers 10 of our most frequently asked questions about back pain.

1. What’s the fastest way I can get my lower back feeling better again?

You can start by seeing a trained health professional to be assessed and diagnosed on the type of lower back injury you have suffered. This will influence the management of your injury. Physiotherapy us especially good at maximising function and reducing pain during the initial phases of an injury, then exercise is the most effective way to speed recovery from lower back injury as well as helping to build strength in the back and adominal muscles.

2. How long will my back take to recover?

Most people tend to recover from lower back injuries within 2-6weeks. However for some people it can be a slower process. This depends on the type and mechanism of your injury, whether your injury is a new or recurrent one as well as how well you manage your recovery.

3. What type of exercises should I be doing?

You will want to do a mixtuyre between stretching and mobility exericses as well as core and lower back strengthening exercises depending on your pain levels. If this is a recurrent injury to your lumbar spine it is important that you go through a period of strength and conditioning to avoid further injury. My favourite ways of strengthening for the lumbar spine are through an individualised Pilates inspired program or gym-based strengtehning under supervision.

4. What causes lower back pain?

In most cases it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of pain/injury. However it is not always necessary to know the specific cause to be able to manage a lower back injury effectively. Sometimes people will have a direct cause such as an acute injury from a lift or twist which as given an added stress to the structures of the lumbar spine like the disc, muscles and/or the ligaments.

5. Is my Back Pain Serious?

Most of the time lower back injuries arent sinister and recover well with time and the appropriate management. It is rare but some conditions are more serious than others, this is why its important to see your Physiotherapist who will carefully screen your injury and symptoms to determine if that is the case. However, it is more likely that it a lower level injury that will fully recover.

6. Do I need to See My Doctor?

Physiotherapists are first contact practitioners so you don’t need a GP referral to come and see us, you can book an appointment straight away. Your Physiotherapist will work with your Doctor in order to come up with the best management possible and keep them updated about your care.

8. Do I Need to Have Time Off Work?

Depending on the severity of your injury and symptoms and the type of work you do, you may required time off work after a back injury. However we try to get people back to work in some capacity as soon as they are able. In my experience I find that people who return to appropriate levels of work earlier find it beenficial to their recovery.

9. Should I Rest In Bed or on the Floor?

The old idea of laying on a hard floor or board to recover from back pain has been proven to be non-beneficial to recovery. Similarly it is not helpful to rest in bed. You should try to find a comfortable position to sleep in at the usual times you would go to bed, however during your waking hours you should try to keep moving and avoid being still in any one position for a long time. I recommend people who see me go on gentle short walks to maintain mobility of the lumbar spine and reduce spasm and related pain.

10. Will I Always Have Problems with My Back Now?

The short answer is no. Typically lower back injuries will recover fully with no residual deficits. Lumbar spine injuries normally resolve fully within 2-6weeks if managed correctly. Rarely, there is a more severe injury where more permanent damage may be done to the lumbar spine, however this is not common.

11. What Types of Stretches Should I Be Doing?

As a little bonus I have included an 11th question and this is the one I wish everyone asked – What stretches can I do to help relieve my back pain? Below are 6 of my favourite stretches to recommend to people who see me with lower back pain, whether it be acute or long standing. They are a mixture of muscular stretches and mobility based exercises.

This is just a general stretching program to get you started. Keep in mind it’s always best to have a program prescribed to your individual circumstances.  If you’d like help with your back pain, get in touch with your nearest clinic.