Focus On: Low Back Pain
What is Low Back Pain (LBP)?
Low back pain is most commonly a musculoskeletal disorder, which often involves a strain of the muscles around or attached at the lower back region (including the pelvis). It can also be triggered by injury or disease to the bones, nerves, or possibly ‘referred pain’, which is where an injury elsewhere can present itself as pain in the lower back.
Approximately 40% of people have LBP at some point in their lives, with estimates as high as 80% among people in the developed world. The onset is often between ages 20-40, with men and women being equally affected. It is more common among people aged 40–80 years, with the overall number of individuals affected expected to increase as the population ages.
Although the onset of LBP is sometimes immediate, in many cases back problems develop over time. It is very common and can vary from a slight twinge to severe pain and can be intermittent or constant depending on the cause. However, if managed properly in a timely fashion, most people can maintain reduced symptoms or in many cases recover completely, without the need for chronic pharmaceutical interventions.
Causes of LBP
• Age can be a significant contributing factor, with the constant wear and tear of life eventually taking its toll. However, age and back pain do not always go hand-in-hand.
• Back pain has a wide variety of causes, from picking up a heavy parcel incorrectly to spending too long in one position. Feeling very anxious or stressed can sometimes make your pain worse. It is rarely due to a serious health problem.
• LBP may develop from weakened muscles that cannot handle every day walking, bending or stretching. In some cases, the discomfort may come from general tension, lack of proper sleep, poor posture and/or stress.
• Pregnancy commonly brings on back pain. Hormonal changes and weight gain put new kinds of stresses on a pregnant woman's spine and legs.
• Injuries from contact sports, accidents and falls can cause problems ranging from minor muscle strains to severe damage to the spinal column or the spinal cord itself. These injuries may not always cause pain immediately, however, can worsen over time if left untreated.
The Benefits of Hydrotherapy for LBP
• Buoyancy – by offloading some of your bodyweight when immersed in the pool, this can help alleviate some of the pressure on the joints and muscles of the spine and pelvis, allowing for increased range of movement and decreased pain.
• Heat – our pool is maintained at 34°C, which can help to warm the tissues to improve circulation and aid lymphatic drainage; helping tight lower back muscles to relax. This allows for a wide range of exercises to be performed in water that you may not be able to do on land if you suffer from an inflexible, tight or painful lower back.
• Pain relief – our heated pool offers pain relief during movement that you may otherwise experience on land due to both the heat of the water as well as the anti-inflammatory effects of hydrostatic pressure on the body.
• Hydrostatic Pressure – water naturally has pressurising qualities that can help reduce oedema and swelling. It can also help improve blood flow and lymphatic drainage.
• Sensory Input – having your body surrounded by water can give you increased proprioception and an improved feeling of balance and confidence. This can also have some pain reducing effects, and induce a feeling of relaxation.
• Strengthening – the waters drag against your movements provides for a safe way to increase resistance training to help improve your strength. Combined with our state of the art under water current machine, you can strengthen your core and lower body to better support your overworked lower back safely and without pain.
When and How Can I Start Hydrotherapy?
As soon as possible! The earlier you start the better off you will be. Getting started is simple and easy, and it involves an initial assessment from one of our highly qualified physiotherapists. Together from there they will build a programme tailored to your needs, which may require additional follow-up sessions with a physio before advancing your way to self-managed sessions where you will follow a prescribed exercise plan.