PHYSIO'S GET LOW BACK PAIN TOO....
One of the most frequent conversations I have with patients regarding low back pain (LBP)is how around how they can manage it going forwards and avoid repeated debilitating episodes.
This is something that I have personal experience of, and I strongly believe that despite being an experienced Physio, a lot of my knowledge comes from what I have experienced myself, combined with my professional knowledge. I ask patients if they are happy for me to discuss my personal experience and no one has ever said no. I think it helps to know that I have that understanding. When someone describes their leg pain….”it feels odd”, “my leg feels thick and not quite right”, “I can’t understand why it’s ok and then later it just isn’t”, “I just can’t get comfortable”….. I know exactly what you mean!
In 2009 I had my first episode of acute, sudden onset discogenic (pain originating from a disc in the spine) low back pain. My ‘disc had gone’, I had well and truly ‘done my back in’. At this time I didn’t realise how long this would limit me for, and repeated episodes meant that I wasn’t really fully recovered until 2012. It was a bit of a rollercoaster, it would get better, then it would “go” again and I felt very cautious about what I was doing in general everyday activities. I ended up taking Gabapentin as my leg pain was so severe and actually most limiting, once the acute episodes of back pain settled.
In 2012 I was offered spinal surgery. I really didn’t want to keep relying on medication but absolutely didn’t want to have to go down a surgical route unless I really needed to, so I turned it down. I felt I was starting to see improvements and started to believed that I could make changes that would help me to get stronger, and reduce the risk of these severe episodes.
I started doing more regular exercise, walking initially, but then also swimming, cycling and Pilates. In time I was able to see good positive improvements, I was able to come off all medications, had a normal active lifestyle and was able to have my children, something which had been a real worry. I’ve had the occasional twinge but nothing that comes close to those early episodes, and I now feel I know how to manage these twinges to prevent anything more severe.
When I was a Junior Physio I was showed a video clip whilst on a pain course, and I still refer to it today. It is a very well known clip of Lorimer Moseley, an Australian pain specialist, talking about how the body reacts to pain. I use this with my patients with recurring pain, especially low back pain, and I’ve attached the link below. The first 10 minutes are the most relevant (and funny). It explains so well why we react the way we do when we feel pain, or ‘the back go’, and I feel this helped me so much. It has helped change my mindset and how I react to that initial pain or spasm, and it is this that I am trying to use to educate my patients in order to help them manage their back pain.
I am more active now than I have been in my adult life. I have recently started running, something I was previously told never to do with my back, but I feel strong enough to do so. A few years ago I started working with Phil Newbury, a personal trainer at Exclusive Gym and with him I built my confidence to actually be able to bend forwards, and lift weights (although the first time he asked me to lift a weight off the floor and laughed at him and said I couldn’t because I was that worried about my back…how wrong I was). I have learned that with strength, movement and stability I can lift weights, I can run, do HIIT sessions and cycle (although only in fine weather!). I even parapente when I get the opportunity.
Yoga has also been a massive part of my activity over the last 8 years, and I feel passionately that this allows me to use my whole body, improving my mobility, global strength and stability. I wouldn’t be without it now! Realistically I only manage 1 yoga session week, occasionally a short home session too, but I also do about 3 other exercise sessions a week and “my back” is rarely a consideration.
I strongly advise watching video clip of Lorimer Moseley. It explains so well how we react to pain in the way we do and hopefully if you are someone who suffers with your back, this will help to clarify that initial reaction that you feel and hopefully help you to start managing it differently. The action you take to manage your back when you initially feel “your back go” is so important.
I will do a follow up blog to this one about acute management of low back pain….watch this space.
If you feel you can relate to this and would like any further help or advise then please feel free to get in touch to book in with one of us, all details are on our website: www.selectphysio.co.uk
I hope you have found this interesting.
This is the link for the Lorimer Moseley video….enjoy!
Physiotherapist (and Practice Owner)
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