What a pain in the back…

What a pain in the back…

Hi all, Justin here again. With today marking the start of a crackdown on pain medications and ease of purchasing, Steve and myself thought it would be prudent to chat to you guys about low back pain and its management.

Low back pain is one of, if not the most common musculoskeletal injury in Australia. Indeed 85% or more of us will experience a low back pain episode in our lifetime, with about 23% of these going on to develop persistent issues (Balague et al, 2012)**.

However, for the vast majority of these 85% the actual cause of your back pain is benign and is nothing to worry about. They generally are only a sprain or strain of a joint or muscle which when managed properly (see below), will tend to get better within 2-4 days to 4-6 weeks (depending on severity and differences between person to person).

Traditionally low back pain in Western society has been managed with bed rest, days off work and pain medication. Pain medication used has differed from paracetamol such as Panadol to anti-inflammatories such as Nurofen to codeine containing medicines such as Panadeine Forte or Nurofen Plus all the way to much stronger ones such as Lyrica, muscle relaxants and tramadol.

As you may know, codeine containing medication can no longer be bought over the counter from today, and instead requires a prescription from your doctor. Luckily, studies have conclusively shown that such pain medication is not effective for low back pain.

Instead, keeping active and mobile, a strengthening program, physiotherapy treatment and education are by far the best management of low back pain.

For severe, acute pain, if medication is required then anti-inflammatories are the best (when taken in conjunction with the above). For more persistent low back pain, your best bet is a combination of the above minus the medication.

So next time you or someone you know has low back pain, please do not hesitate to book in to see either Steve or myself for some reassurance, treatment and some exercises (either stretches, strengthening exercises or a combination of the two) to get you back doing what you love.

Your body will thank you for it. And better yet, you don’t need a prescription or referral to come see us!

** Balagué, F., Mannion, A., Pellisé, F. and Cedraschi, C. (2012). Non-specific low back pain. The Lancet, 379(9814), pp.482-491.