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What You Need to Know About Back Pain

By Matt Fitzsimmons – Physiotherapist

Back pain is a widespread condition that effects the vast majority of the population at some point throughout their life. This condition is often misunderstood and mismanaged, by not only individuals but also healthcare providers, necessitating the need for anyone experiencing back pain understand the up-to-date knowledge regarding this condition. This article, adapted from the Physio Network, provides an easy summary on the current understanding and advise on managing back pain.


  1. Don’t panic
  • Low back pain is so common that nearly everyone will experience it at some point and therefore it should not be viewed as a threatening condition.
  • Instead, focus on what triggers your pain and seek help on what you should and should not do rather than trying to eliminate it.
  • The majority of back pain (about 98%) is attributed to non-serious musculoskeletal causes.
  • It is often transient, and most people will recover quickly (within 6-8 weeks).


  1. Don’t rush
  • It is inevitable that people want to seek immediate investigation to understand and treat the source of their pain. However…
  • Strong evidence supports that unless serious medical pathology is under question, scans such as X-Rays or MRI are not always necessary or accurate in isolating a specific cause of pain.
  • Painkillers can reduce the suffering caused by back pain, but over the counter options should be sought out first. Painkillers also do not speed the time to recovery and come with side-effects.
  • Surgery is rarely an option for back pain and should be avoided for a considerable period to allow for natural recovery or recovery using non-surgical approaches i.e. physical therapy and exercise.


  1. Don’t listen to the misconceptions
  • Discs, bones, and joints do not “slip” or “go out of place” and treatments such as spinal manipulation do not re-position things back into place.
  • This language and rationale, which not only inaccurate, give the impression that the spine is vulnerable and fragile which creates anxiety, a fear of movement and exercise, and a pursuit for non-essential interventions.


  1. Don’t worry about scans
  • Often people that receive scans for their back pain have some “positive” finding such as arthritis or disc bulges.
  • These findings are very common and a normal part of the ageing process. In fact, most people without any pain or symptoms have these findings on imaging.
  • It takes an accurate clinical assessment to correlate these imaging findings to your pain experience.


  1. Don’t be fooled by quick fixes
  • There are no magical cures or quick fixes for back pain.
  • These marketed “quick fixes” often distract people from engaging in approaches that are proven to be more helpful, such as adhering to an exercise program or getting a good night’s sleep.


  1. Avoid bed rest, remain active, and return to your usual activities
  • Research has shown that people with back pain who remain active (even when in pain) do better in the long-term.
  • Some pain during activity is to be expected and pain does not mean you are creating further damage.
  • The trick is to find a balance between letting the pain settle while still remaining active and then gradually increasing your activities back to their pre-injury levels (a physiotherapist can help with this).


  1. Stay at work or return as quickly as you can
  • The longer you delay returning to your usual activities, the longer the delay to recovery.
  • As mentioned above, a gradual return to normal activities is helpful, including work.
  • This may mean modifying your work routine, the way you do it, or your work duties and gradually returning to full duties.


  1. Exercise does help!
  • Exercise can not only alleviate some pain, it also is shown to be one of the only methods to prevent recurrence of back pain (by nearly 50%!)



If you would like to read the full article, check out https://physio-network.com/all-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-back-pain/ . Credit to Dr. Mary O’Keeffe

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Caleigh ( Athlete and student )

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Nell (Educator and (again, thanks to Ross) considerably more knowledgeable Cricket Spectator)

“I was referred to Ross by my doctor, originally, for treatment of shin splints. When Ross could see my progress was not as expected, he communicated with my doctor regarding the possibility of a tibia fracture – a subsequent CT scan confirmed it was. Thanks to Ross’s professional experience and keen attention to underlying symptoms, my injury was more accurately diagnosed and is now, with his physio support, healing well. Ross’ quiet sense of humour and steady encouragement have made my physio treatment experience very positive”.


Peter ( still strolling along. )

“Ross took the time to understand the impact heel pain had on my activities and analyze the mechanics and footwear that aggravated the pain. With therapy and the custom orthotics he prescribed and recommended footwear I was able to happily stroll through the villages and countryside of Italy this Summer.”

(still strolling along.)

Paul Gray ( active dad and running enthusiast )

“My experience at PhysioPlus was extremely positive. 3 days after tearing my ACL playing soccer I had my first visit. I walked in on crutches and was wearing an immobilizer knee brace for stability. Ross was able to help me regain confidence to bear weight on my injured leg and I was able to walk out with the crutches in one hand and the knee brace in the other.

Ross was able to confirm from his assessment of my knee that I had, in fact, ruptured my ACL which had not yet been confirmed, being prior to an appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon or an MRI.

Ross had me work through a program pre-surgery to regain as much mobility and stability I could without having the ACL intact. After the reconstructive surgery was completed we worked through a program to continue to increase mobility and strength. Having access to the exercise room complete with equipment was extremely helpful. Ross was able to explain and demonstrate how to effectively work through the exercise routines.

Within one year of my surgery I have returned to running and have started some hiking. I would highly recommend PhysioPlus to anyone requiring treatment. The atmosphere is calm and everyone is extremely friendly and caring.”

Paul Gray
Active Dad and Running Enthusiast

Lisa Wren (Age 55)

“After completing an extensive painting project, I ended up with a frozen right shoulder, which was extremely painful and debilitating. This is when my introduction to Physioplus occurred. My physiotherapist, Ross Baines, was instrumental in getting me back to good health. Ross used various interventional techniques to encourage movement in the shoulder joint, always providing me with ample information about each. He was always professional and communicated thoroughly with the rest of my medical team. I have every confidence that the care Ross provided expedited my return to normal activity. I would not hesitate to recommend Ross and the entire team at Physioplus!”

Lisa Wren

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Bruce Cook
– previous hard core triathlete