• Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Rehabilitation

Mechanical Back Pain

Also known as mechanical back pain, simple back pain, lumbago arthritis of the spine, spondylosis, back sprain.

Mechanical back pain is very common affecting over 80 % of adults between the 30 – 50 years of age and globally 60% of the population at some time. The exact cause in unknown but it can be due to recurrent minor injury to the discs and small joints of your spine.

Symptoms

This is a dull aching pain that people feel in their lower back. It is made worse by prolonged standing, sitting and occasionally by walking. It can be associated with stiffness particularily in the mornings and be worse by end of the day.. The pain can radiate at times to the back of the thighs.

Some people can have acute flare ups of back pain on the background of their normal dull pain. These are characterised by a more sharp pain in the low back with, muscle spasm causing them to be bent over with the pain at times. The triggers for such attacks can be benign events such a bending or twisting awkwardly. Such attacks can last a few days and ease gradually over a week.

It is important to identify more serious forms of back pain which are associated with a fever, significant weight loss, if you have a past history of cancer. The pain is in your thoracic spine (middle part of your back). If the pain is predominantly at night and keeping you awake, if you take regular steroid medication and if you have difficulty passing water or stool. Back pain associated with one of these conditions can mean more serious problems and you should consult your doctor.

Investigations

There is no designated cause for mechanical back pain so therefore it is difficult to determine the source of the problem.

Mechanical Back Pain

It is important to control the pain with simple regular use of painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. If these prove unhelpful then consult you doctor who can advise.

Staying active is recommended. Seeing a physiotherpist, osteopath or chiropracter can help deal with the acute attacks of mechanical back pain. Once the pain has subsided an exercise course focusing on posture, core strength (the muscles of your abdomen, back and pelvic floor that support your back) and relaxation techniques is very good at minimizing problems for the future.

In some people where the pain proves difficult to control injections into the lumbar spine to can help control the pain. Surgery for back pain is limited to a very small number of patents resistant to simpler treatment methods.

Mechanical Back Pain

Physiotherapy treatment for mechanical back pain involves a thorough assessment of back movements and palpation of the vertebral spine and muscles. Painful muscles can be treated with massage techniques, stretching techniques and pain reduction acupuncture or electrotherapy. Stiff segments of the spine can be mobilised using different grades of mobilising techniques or manipulation techniques. Exercise prescription, specifically exercise aimed at strengthening the core is often effective over a period of time. Pilates will often be recommended as a form of maintenance.