by Alan Jordan
The majority of us in the western world will develop low back pain and possibly associated leg pain, also called sciatica, at some point in our lives. The most common age is 20 to 55 years old.
Mechanical low back pain is unspecific because it is almost impossible to determine the absolute cause of the symptoms. However, a typical slipped disc, which can often be confirmed by a magnetic resonance scan (MRI) can be correlated with the onset and development of low back pain and sciatica.
The good news is that the majority of us will become symptom free on average after four months from the onset of back pain. Research has shown that the slipped disc remains present but no longer produces pressure on the nerve root (Fukushima J Med Sci. 2010 Dec;56(2):91-7).
The consensus based on research is also that the more you can remain active, avoiding bending the back forwards for the first couple of hours once you wake up, the less likely you are to remain in pain for a long period of time.
These exercises were developed by Mr. Robin McKenzie, a physiotherapist from New Zealand, and they might also help to reduce the pressure on the nerve root, considering that the majority of us have a life style that favours a slouching position of the low back. The aim of theses exercises is to restore a more uniform pressure distribution in the disc and restore the normal curvature in of the spine.
Here are some tips for you:
- Remain as fit and active for as long as possible.
- Avoid bending your back for the first couple of hours in the morning. For example: don’t bend your back to shave or put make-up on and to put shoes on, bend the leg up.
- Nerves do not like to be stretched, so if you have leg pain, initially move but don’t stretch.
- As soon as possible, try lying on your tummy and gently extend elbows, pushing the upper body up and keeping the body completely relaxed.
- If the symptoms persist or increase, consult your doctor or therapist.
- Above all, remember that we are talking about mechanical back pain – it will never kill you, its just boring and can be very painful indeed, but pain is a warning mechanism to protect us. Because it is mechanical in nature, the best approach is to keep the mechanics of the body moving.
For more information about the author of this article, physiotherapist Jose Marcelino, go to https://www.broadgatespinecentre.co.uk/london-physiotherapy/.