Modern sedentary lifestyles are a cause for an increasing incidence of back and neck pain. Neck problems can cause pain in your neck, shoulder, mid-back, arm or headaches. A back problem can cause pain in your back, groin, hip or leg. These symptoms may be caused by an injury to any of the structures around your spine including the discs, muscles, joints ligaments and nerves.
In certain cases pain comes about by a variety of different factors coming together, including bad posture, stress and lack of activity.
What will a Physiotherapist do?
Physiotherapists working in the area of Musculoskeletal therapy are specially trained in treating back and neck pain.
A Physiotherapist will:
Perform a detailed assessment via history taking and a physical examination. This may include your past medical history, mechanism of injury and presence of symptoms
Give a diagnosis of the exact site of symptoms and the underlying causes
Discuss a treatment and exercise programme in collaboration with you.
Your Physiotherapist will monitor your symptoms at each visit and will progress your treatment programme accordingly. If appropriate, your physiotherapist will liaise with your doctor, hospital consultant or other health care professional. You will be advised on return to work, sport, daily activities and given advice on preventing recurrence of your pain.
What are the treatments?
Specific treatment of spinal pain could include some of the following:
Manual techniques – manipulation, traction or mobilisation of the joints in the spine
Soft tissue techniques – massage, frictions, trigger point therapy, acupressure and stretching.
Stretching, strengthening and postural exercises – a specifically tailored exercise programme targeting your problems. Also, group exercise interventions may be appropriate such as Pilates or the Alexander technique.
Taping – taping techniques may be used to offload over active muscles or to stabilize certain movements. Taping can also be used to provide feedback and enhance proprioception (communication between the brain and the affected part)
Collars or lumbar supports are only recommended in extremely painful situations or in the very early stages of the injury.
Electrotherapy – Electrotherapy modalities vary widely but the most common are: ultrasound, interferential, TENS, laser or electrical stimulation which may help speed up healing and reduce pain.
Hydrotherapy - This includes advice regarding exercise and therapy in water
Biomechanical assessment and prescription of orthotics (customised insoles) including posture re-education (from head to toe) as certain pain can be due to repeated poor movement patterns of the body.
Prescription and fitting - of collars, pillows, spinal supports, lumbar rolls and corrective seating.
Assess and give advice - on ergonomics (working postures) to reduce unnecessary load on your spine and help your body work more efficiently.