Why do I have lower back pain and what can physiotherapist help?

Low back pain is a very common condition that we see every day. It can be annoying because 35% of people with low back pain have persistent pain for one year and 50% experience a recurrence within 1 year after recovering. Some common risk factors of low back pain are lifting in an awkward posture, being distracted during an activity, and had low back pain before.

Why do I have pain in my buttock or numbness down my leg?

Radiating leg pain or numbness down the leg are usual accompaniments to low back pain. These symptoms arise from nerve or structures of the lumbar spine. “Sciatica” is a term that you may hear often, it describes symptoms relating to the sciatic nerve. When the nerve is irritated, you may experience numbness, tingling, and/or muscle weakness. To properly diagnose and identify the underlying pathology, it is important to determine the source of symptoms. Your physiotherapist may examine your movement pattern and pain response to guide the treatment approach.

Do I need to get a scan for my low back pain?

In most cases, a scan (x-ray, MRI, CT) is unnecessary. The “abnormalities” shown on the scans do not necessarily show your source of symptoms or reflect the amount of pain you have. More importantly, scientific studies have reported that many people who DO NOT have back pain also have “abnormalities” on their scans. This tells us that what is shown on the scan does not necessarily correlate with how you feel. In fact, a comprehensive physiotherapy assessment provides all the information we need to treat your low back pain. We focus on treating you, but not your scan.

How can physiotherapy help with my low back pain?

A physiotherapist will usually conduct a thorough assessment to rule out some serious pathologies and decide the treatment approach. Low back pain can be managed with specific exercises that are prescribed according to your particular conditions. Some major impairment we aim to address through exercises is poor muscle control/ core stability, reduced muscle strength, and joint stiffness. Manual therapy, including joint mobilisations and manipulations, may also be used to help you reduce pain and restore movement.

Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment in any manner and is intended for general educational purposes only. Consult your qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition.

Jason Chan


B. of Applied Science (Physiotherapy) First Class Honours

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