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November 30th, 2023

Understanding Low Back Pain


Some facts about Low Back Pain and how Physiotherapy can help.

by Claire McGlynn, PT, CAMPT

Did you know that less than 2% of episodes of Low Back Pain (LBP) are serious conditions requiring surgery or medical treatments. In many cases, LBP resolves in 2 to 6 weeks, but in some cases, it can last 2 to 3 months.

LBP can reoccur! 75% of people experiencing back pain will have another episode in their lifetime, up to 80% in the same year.

Unless you have signs of serious pathology, an X-ray or MRI is not necessary.  Findings on these tests are rarely helpful in determining the cause of your pain. In fact, most of the time, we don’t know what caused your pain. That’s because LBP is complex and is never about one specific structure being at fault.

And what about your neighbour or friend who had this test or that procedure, medication or injection? Successful back treatment is individualized. What worked for someone else, may not work for you.

Do get help from your doctor if you need early pain relief, in the form of anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxant medications.  

When to seek Physiotherapy for Low Back Pain

Seeing a Physiotherapist, especially in the early days of LBP can guide you on whether rest or activity is best suited. They can also help if you’re not sure how to resume activity or afraid you might do something to make things worse.  Hands-on treatment and exercise prescription can reduce pain and spasm, and aid in overall recovery.

Physiotherapy treatments with myself include education, exercise prescription, manual therapy, and acupuncture when needed.

If pain persists beyond 6 weeks, despite conservative treatment (exercise, movement), it might be time to ask your doctor about an imaging or pain treatment options.  There are certain medical treatments (like injections) that can provide moderate short term relief in those that experience back and leg pain lasting longer than 6 weeks.

I hope this helps clear up some of the confusing messaging around low back pain and how to manage it successfully and fearlessly!

About Claire McGlynn, PT CAMPT

Claire has been in practice as a Physiotherapist for almost 20 years. She is a proud member of the Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapists (CAMPT). In addition to treating patients with low back pain, she also assesses and treats muscle strain, tendonopathy, osteoarthritis, whiplash, headaches, rotator cuff problems, Knee ACL/MCL/meniscal tears, hip labral pathologies, pelvic girdle pain, ankle sprains, repetitive strain, postural dysfunction, and vestibular dysfunction. To book an appointment with Claire, visit our online calendar or call (416) 820 8588.

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