What causes low back pain and how should I treat it?
There are many causes of low back pain. For many people, their low back pain is a systemic condition without a single cause. Due to the complex nature of this issue, there are a multitude of treatment options. Ultimately, the answer seems to be a personal one. The search for your own low back pain answer can include any of the following:
- Body awareness
- Trying different treatments and therapies, such as massage
- Diet and exercise changes
- Removing poor habits from your daily routine such as continuous sitting with poor posture
An article in the December/January 2006 issue of Massage Bodywork magazine summarizes the personalized approach to treatment and the role that massage can play:
There are claims of success for many different interventions, from massage to surgery, but even after treatment, back pain tends to recur periodically for years. While there is no doubt that some forms of treatment are more effective than others, we often don’t know why and often can’t predict what will work best for each person. For example, it is clear that some people are helped by daily exercise regimes, but others are not. In many cases, injections seem to work wonders, yet in similar cases they may not work at all. And although massage helps many clients feel better, it makes some clients worse.
Massage has be shown to be effective in treating low back pain in many studies. Additionally, it is a minimally invasive treatment that can provide immediate relief and can help the body move into balance in the long-term. Therefore, it is a great treatment to start with or add to your existing plan.
What forms of massage for low back pain are most effective?
Identifying the muscles and ligaments that are stressed and targeting them is a good way to proceed when treating low back pain with massage therapy. Common muscles/ligaments that contribute to low back pain include:
- quadratus lumborum (QL)
- gluteus medius
- sacroiliac ligaments of the sacrum
- erector spinae
There is a good chance that one or more of these areas are playing a role in your pain, so ask you therapist to palpate and treat these areas. For example, cross-fiber techniques can be especially helpful on the sacral ligaments.
When should I see a physician?
Sometimes, the cause of low back pain is more serious than a strained muscle. Such cases include:
- nerve root compression
- spinal stenosis
- osteophytic root pain
- cancer of the spine
If you experience severe pain, persistent numbness or weakness in the legs and feet, severely restricted range of motion, bladder or bowel incontinence, or paralysis you should see your physician.
Am I A Good Candidate for Massage?
Always discuss your treatment plan with a doctor. Unless there is a serious underlying condition that warrants the care and counsel of a specialist, you should be able to safely add massage to your treatment plan for low back pain. Even with a more serious condition, massage can be beneficial, but discuss this with your doctor first. When receiving massage, make sure to tell your therapist if any painful sensations arise during the session. Always communicate with your therapist during a session when necessary (therapists are not offended by your input and actually prefer it.) At Advanced Massage Professionals in Gainesville, we work with many clients experiencing chronic and intermittent low pain back. We are happy to help reduce or eliminate your pain and give you tools to move into a state of health and happiness.