As an Osteopath in Doha, I often encounter people who are experiencing ongoing lower back pain. Many of these people have a fear of using their back for normal daily activities such as bending, twisting, reaching and lifting etc.
When we experience lower back pain it can be so excruciatingly painful that we become apprehensive about performing normal everyday movements of the spine such as bending and twisting. The anticipation of pain, as well as the pain itself, often leads to a reduction in both the amount and variety of movement in the lower back. This can then affect the condition and function of the muscles that support the lumbar spine.
Specific Exercise for Lower Back Pain
When our movement becomes restricted, muscles in the lower back can become stiff, deconditioned and easily fatigued. People with back pain are often advised to improve core strength with specific exercises that target certain muscles. However, specific ‘core’ exercises are no more effective than a general exercise approach that includes strength, flexibility and aerobic training.
Allowing our core muscles to contract naturally has shown to be more effective than manoeuvres such as hollowing or excessive bracing. Unnecessary stiffening and bracing of our muscles can increase the pressure on the discs of the lumbar spine, so it may be better to focus on relaxing the lower back during movement and focus on a tailored plan of exercise that improves muscle tone, flexibility and blood flow to the lower back.
Don’t be Afraid by What you See on a Scan!
Practicing as an Osteopath in Doha is a fantastic experience, with so many great healthcare facilities for people to utilize when needed. With such access to excellent healthcare resources many people are very quick to have x-rays and MRI’s when they experience lower back pain.
Unfortunately, when many people see minor irregularities on a scan and then read words like spondylosis, scoliosis and degeneration on their report, they become even more fearful of normal movement and begin to believe that their body is damaged.
In the case of persistent and recurrent aches and pains, normal age-related changes such as dehydrated discs, disc bulges, and spondylosis are not necessarily the cause of discomfort and should not be a cause for alarm. In fact, many people walk around with numerous bulging and worn discs with no pain at all!
Our discs, muscles, tendons and ligaments do a great job of healing after any injury or trauma, and after approximately 3 months, we would expect any structural injury or damage to have healed, even when pain is still hanging around.
Lower Back Pain Analogies
Think of normal wear and tear in the spine as being like wrinkles on our skin; age related changes that will happen in most, if not all healthy spines.
Ongoing pain can be analogized as a red light flashing on your dashboard when there is nothing wrong with the engine,
An over sensitive alarm system that is reacting to non-harmful stimuli with an over protective response!
Lower Back Pain is a Call to Action!
Chronic or persistent pain is just downright weird and still somewhat of a mysterious phenomena in scientific circles. Take phantom limb pain for example: People who experience pain in limbs that are no longer there!
With this in mind we shouldn’t be too quick to blame what we see on scans (or the big scary words we see on a report) for the discomfort we experience.
It will be more helpful to contextualise ongoing pain, not as damage, but as a call to action!
And the question is, what action is your back asking you to take when pain strikes?
- Is it asking you to move more?
- Take up some exercise?
- Reduce levels of stress?
- Get more rest?
- Change your diet? (remove pro inflammatory triggers such as dairy, gluten, refined sugar, reduce weight to ease pressure on joints etc.)
There are No Quick Fixes for Lower Back Pain
However, you decide to answer the call, it is essential that you have an active role in your recovery process and set about it methodically with the same focus and commitment you would apply to other important areas of your life.
Unfortunately, many people want a quick fix solution for their back pain and also for their health in general. It is very common for people to see numerous different therapists and become more confused and frustrated by conflicting opinions and unsuccessful treatments. This often results in a greater awareness of discomfort and more fear of using the lower back for normal physical activities of daily life.
Remember- Healthcare is a business, and unfortunately there are often vested interests involved when people are unnecessarily recommended to have invasive surgery or undergo unnecessarily long courses of treatment!
In the case of persistent pain, the best healthcare is self-care!
The majority of persistent lower back pain sufferers just require guidance and support from an experienced Health Professional who can help them establish a regular exercise regime and address any contributing lifestyle factors such as diet and stress levels.
Osteopathy in Doha
My approach to treatment focuses on firstly helping people understand that their body is not failing them, and then using a combination of hands on treatment, and tailored exercises to reduce pain, increase confidence and promote a speedy recovery.
This is all reinforced by constant communication and guidance on the simple things that we can do from day to day to feel healthier and happier. In the presence of back pain, the most effective approach is to take the focus away from the lower back and focus on helping you become healthier, happier, fitter and more confident.
Manual therapy treatment may be helpful in providing short-term relief from lower back pain, but it’s the habits and activities we engage in outside of treatment that create lasting change.
Tips for Managing your Lower Back Pain
- Don’t be afraid of using your lower back because of what you have seen or read on a scan
- Don’t be afraid to move or exercise into discomfort. You are not damaging yourself and it’s ok for your lower back to feel uncomfortable during exertion.
- Exercising into mild discomfort can help to supress levels of pain, increase our pain threshold, and improve tolerance toward previously distressing levels of discomfort.
- Try to increase your variety of movement by gently exploring more bending, twisting and lifting.
- Be aware of over bracing or tensing when you move, this can create more pressure in the spine and subsequently more discomfort.
Don’t just waft away the smoke, put out the fire of lower back pain.
Back pain is often made worse by an accumulation of both physical and mental stress . Common stressors such as prolonged sitting, lack of sleep, lack of movement, work pressure, and emotional stress are all precursors to episodes of lower back pain, and all things that are within our control.
To use an analogy- Just treating the back is often like trying to get rid of the smoke of a burning fire. It is far more effective to try putting the fire out by addressing all of the lifestyle factors that may be causing your lower back pain.
Osteopathy goes way beyond the clinic room
It is very optimistic to think that a forty-minute treatment can have as much effect on your body as the other 23 hrs and 20 minutes of the day. This is why my Osteopathy treatment places a strong focus on what can be done outside of the clinic room in order to enhance and reinforce what is done in it!
In many cases, it has taken weeks, months and sometimes years of accumulated poor habits to finally result in lower back pain, so my Osteopathy treatment must go way beyond our sessions if you are to achieve lasting results.
By combining current evidence and clinical guidelines with over 20 years of experience, I am excited to be able to offer the people of Doha effective and personalized solutions for lower back pain that get results.
To find out how I can help you live a more active, healthy and pain free life, get in touch.