Why do you have back pain and how do I fix it?

Do you wake up with a stiff and sore back? Maybe you find your back getting tight while sitting at your desk trying to finish all that work that’s piled up? Does bending down to play with your kids or pet your dog seem like a risky pursuit? If so, you are one of the 80% of people on this earth that suffers from back pain at some point in their life.

Despite all the research that’s gone into it, lower back pain continues to be a health epidemic. Just have a look at these statistics:

  • In any given six-month period, five in 10 Canadians suffer low back pain¹
  • Up to 85% of working people can expect to experience low back pain during their lifetime²
  • In Canada, the low back pain-related estimate of the medical costs ranges between 6 and 12 billion dollars annually³

So now that we know how common lower back pain is, why do we get it and how can we fix it?
So, here’s the deal, all the clinicians at Synergy Sports Medicine on the Danforth are first class all the way. BUT they cannot always tell you exactly why you have lower back pain. They can, however, work with you to fix it! Despite what some fad blog may tell you, lower back pain is complex and can have multiple causes. Some may develop lower back pain from sitting too long at the desk, others may get it from playing a sport after not having done so in ages. In those instances, both too much and too little physical activity caused the same annoying result… back pain!

We do know that we are more sedentary than ever as a population. We sit in the morning to get to work, we often sit for hours at a time while at work, we sit to get home and then we sit some more to watch Netflix. After that we lay down and go to bed and do it all over again the next day. Our spine is designed for movement, it craves it! Why else do you think we have 7 moveable neck bones, 12 in our mid back and 5 big ones in our lower back. If we didn’t want our spines to move, we’d have one long solid bone here – we really were built to move! We have a lot of joints connecting all those bones that feel best when moved. If the spine stays in static positions for too long, the joints and synovial fluid inside the joints gets stiff leading to lower back pain. As the saying goes “Motion is Lotion”

Now, there are many other causes of back pain that would need a whole other plan of care. For example, you may have a disc herniation that’s causing shooting pain from your back down into your leg and even into your foot. Synergy Sports Medicine sees these types of patients daily and knows exactly how to manage them.

Fixing lower back pain involves 3 key components

  1. A thorough and detailed history where your unique story is heard:
    We want to know all about you and your pain. How did it start? What have you found makes it better or worse? What is your pain limiting you from doing? And most importantly, what are your goals for coming to see us? Some people want to avoid taking medication that just covers the pain, while others want to get back to playing golf pain-free. Knowing your goals is paramount to a successful result.
  2. Doing a proper physical examination:
    Your therapist at Synergy Sports Medicine on the Danforth will conduct an exam to pinpoint some of the structural issues that might be contributing to your pain. They may do a neurological scan, assess range of motion and strength, watch how you move in certain directions, feel for tight/stiff joints and muscles all to figure out why you have pain.
  3. 3) Getting the most appropriate care for your specific condition:
    This may involve hands-on manual therapy where the joints of your back are stretched and mobilized to ease tension. It may also involve soft tissue massage and stretching of your entire spine, hips, legs, ankles etc. Of course, what can never be forgotten is the stuff your therapist shows you exactly what you can be doing to get your back pain recovery sped right up! Making sure to complete the home exercises only serves you speed up the process and helps prevent it from coming back. This is where we give you the power to take control of your pain!

If lower back pain is something that is ruining your life and taking you away from the activities you enjoy you owe it to yourself to get it looked at by a trained professional. Physiotherapists understand how debilitating lower back pain can be. They seek to figure out what’s causing your pain instead of just treating symptoms that will just come back again and again if the underlying issue isn’t addressed. If your goals are to reduce the need for medication, get more mobile, and enjoy the activities you love than seeking the help of a therapist at Synergy Sports Medicine on the Danforth would be a wise decision.

[1] GBD 2015 Disease and Injury Incidence and Prevalence Collaborators. Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 310 diseases and injuries, 1990-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Lancet. 2016 Oct 8;388(10053):1545-1602.
[2] Hoy D, Bain C, Williams G, March L, Brooks P, Blyth F, Woolf A, Vos T, Buchbinder R. A systematic review of the global prevalence of low back pain. Arthritis Rheum. 2012 Jun;64(6):2028-37. doi: 10.1002/art.34347. Epub 2012 Jan 9. Review.
[3] André E. Bussières, et. al. Spinal Manipulative Therapy and Other Conservative Treatments for Low Back Pain: A Guideline From the Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Initiative, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, May 2018. Page 266 Citation number 23. https://www.jmptonline.org/article/S0161-4754(17)30236-1/pdf
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