Mechanical back pain is low back pain that often starts without an obvious reason and can be fairly painful or acute. Our body is able to cope with a large amount of physical load or strain before it starts to complain. During your day you can put active and passive loads on your spinal structures. Actively through sport or exercise and passively through long hours sitting at a desk or long hours standing. Understanding how your back is affected by these positions can help you to work on changing them. If there is an element of overload then structures in your back can become inflamed or start to complain by producing pain.
Structures in the spine that can be affected are;
All these structures can be affected and your symptoms can often indicate which may be involved but early on it is hard to distinguish. If your back pain eases off quickly with in a week then often it is likely to be muscular but it is always worth looking at the pointers below to reduce any chance of recurrences.
What can I do to help myself when my back is acutely injured?
- Taking painkillers and anti-inflammatories (always discuss your options with your doctor or a pharmacist).
- Keep moving (20minute rule)
- Maintaining a NEUTRAL posture
- Correct your sitting/driving posture
- Modify your exercise but try to maintain some activity
- Avoid activities that aggravate your back until it improves
- Get advice and an assessment from a Physiotherapist
- Heat packs to help reduce the muscle spasms
If you try all the above measures and still have problems after a week then it is worth seeing a physiotherapist to get an individual assessment to your problem, as all backs are different.
If you suffer with your back regularly it may also be beneficial to get an assessment to look at the factors leading to your recurrences.
You can contact us on: [email protected] or call: 0208 0909330
When should I return to my doctor?
The majority of back pain is mechanical but a small number can be more serious and need further investigation.
- Severe back pain that does not ease even with treatment.
- Temperature or not feeling well.
- Possibility of osteoporosis (bone thinning)
- Night pain and weight loss.
You should get emergency attention if:
- You have difficulty passing urine or controlling your bladder
- Lose control of your bowels
- Have numbness around your back passage or genitals
- You have any weakness in your legs or unsteady on your feet.
When you are suffering with low back pain you need to keep moving and not spend too long in one position. We often advise using the 20 minute rule for any position in the day time. If you can exercise lightly that is recommended, for example if you normally run try a gentle walk or cross trainer so reducing the impact, but if it is severe just some gentle mobilisation exercises will be enough to start with. (See below)
As things start to improve you can slowly return to your activity, often a guided return will make all the difference and reduce a vicious cycle of stopping and starting exercise.
If you have any pain during or after the exercise you are not quite ready for it. Sometimes the morning after you may feel some stiffness, if this does not improve then you need to think about a different activity temporarily. Often if you are struggling to get back to your activity level it is worth seeing a Physiotherapist to see how you can keep active without aggravating your back.
This is a term used to describe the position of your back when it is not under too much strain. When your back is injured you need to give it the opportunity to recover and reduce the positions that aggravate it. Remember ‘aching’ is also a symptom and is worth paying attention to. Sitting can be a big culprit. Look at reducing sitting on low chairs, sofas and car seats. Raising them and sitting in neutral will help.
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To find your neutral spine, you will need to slump down and arch your back and then place yourself in the mid point between both positions.
Think neutral spine when
- Driving – Car seats are often quite low so raising your self in the car can take some stress off your back while it is injured.
Gentle mobilising exercises for an acute back pain.
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Gently round your pelvis downwards towards the floor and then gently stretch it up towards the ceiling. Repeat 5-10 x (3 x per day). Only move as far as it feels comfortable which may not be too far to begin but keep gently moving. ALWAYS STOP IF THE EXERCISE MAKES YOUR BACK FEEL WORSE DURING OR AFTER.
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Gently keep your feet and knees together and roll your knees gently side to side. Only move as far as it feels comfortable which may not be too far to begin but keep gently moving. Repeat 5-10 x (3 x per day).ALWAYS STOP IF THE EXERCISE MAKES YOUR BACK FEEL WORSE DURING OR AFTER.
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Knee to Chest
Bring one leg gently to the chest and repeat the other side. ALWAYS STOP IF THE EXERCISE MAKES YOUR BACK FEEL WORSE DURING OR AFTER.
Stability exercises for an acute back pain
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4 point shoulder taps
Find the neutral position- (perform the cat stretch and then place your spine in the most centred position) Draw in your belly button towards your spine which engages your abdominals. Keep the neutral position and then try some shoulder taps. ALWAYS STOP IF THE EXERCISE MAKES YOUR BACK FEEL WORSE DURING OR AFTER.
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Supine Drawing in abdominals
Gently lying on the floor or a comfortable surface, find your neutral spine and gently tighten up your abdominals, try not to hold your breath. Hold for 5-10 sec and repeat 5 x. ALWAYS STOP IF THE EXERCISE MAKES YOUR BACK FEEL WORSE DURING OR AFTER.
‘Disclaimer: These exercises should feel beneficial, please do not perform them if you have any problems with getting to the position and if you feel any discomfort in any of your joints after, please stop doing them straight away.
Our advice is based on current research, it does not replace that of a medical practitioner if you in any way concerned. If you pain persists longer than a week please seek the attention of a health care professional (i.e. a physiotherapist) or your GP. Please do not continue with any exercise if it makes your symptoms worse. Always start any exercise gently and do not repeat too many to begin. It is always best to get a guided programme that is specifically designed for your condition.’
‘Catch your symptoms earlier to reduce the consequences of your injury.’
With over 18 years of experience, we are confident in providing you with an accurate assessment of your condition and providing you with the best course of treatment for a timely recovery. Whether you are a first time sufferer and looking to reduce recurrences of your problem or have had long standing pain that you have not found the right treatment for, we can help you.
During your consultations we will:
• Establish the cause of your pain
• Facilitate recovery through hands on treatment
• Devise a tailor-made exercise programme including Pilates, flexibility and strength training
And if necessary work with you on your fitness and health goals so you can manage your injury independently.
• Physiotherapy sessions with individualised exercise programmes
• Pilates classes run by Physiotherapists trained in Pilates
Tel 0208 0909330
Our Physiotherapists are HPC registered and members of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.