What’s your injury?
Here are some common problems of the upper and lower back – do any of these sound like your pain?
Where? Across the low back.
Difficulties: Sitting, prolonged standing.
Possible diagnosis: Spondylosis (wear and tear).
Cause: Process of ageing. Can occur earlier in life due to lifestyle/previous sporting activities which involve repeated jarring forces to the low back or prolonged periods sitting. E.g. gymnasts/squash players, HGV drivers, machinery operators.
Treatment: Mechanical traction, joint mobilization and soft tissue therapy. Self-treatment; regular exercise to relieve spine of sustained compressive forces.
Low-Back Pain (with numbness)
Where? Low back, with leg pain or nerve symptoms (pins and needles/numbness).
Possible diagnosis: Sciatica.
Cause: Traumatic incident, or sustained or repeated bending. Stretching of the lumbar intervertebral disc causes it to deform and protrude, placing pressure on the nearest spinal nerve. This can happen over multiple spinal levels.
Treatment: Joint mobilisation and soft tissue therapy, sciatic nerve stretches.
Where? Central or either side of the spine.
Difficulties: All movement, deep breath, cough, laugh.
Possible diagnosis: Costo-thoracic joint dysfunction.
Cause: Joint between a rib and vertebral segment becomes stuck, can feel like stabbing. Often occurs insidiously e.g. getting out of bed after a sound sleep.
Treatment: Joint mobilisation/manipulation, massage. Often responds quickly.
Upper-Back & Shoulder
Where? Upper back/shoulder blade area.
Difficulties: Sitting at a desk/driving. Relieves with movement.
Possible diagnosis: Postural joint and muscle strain.
Cause: Due to sustained postures of sitting or standing, or carrying small children. Tension accumulates in deep postural muscles of the spine and thorax, causing subsequent joint rigidity.
Treatment: Rib and spine mobilisation, massage to deep spinal and thorax muscles. Stretches.