Most people will experience short-term back pain lasting a few days to weeks at some point in their life. This is known as acute low back pain and tends to resolve on its own with self-care without any residual loss of function. Acute low back pain is usually associated with a known trigger or causative activity. Therefore, the pain at this stage may be linked to the injury of specific tissues within the body.
However, about 20 percent of people affected by acute low back pain will develop chronic low back pain. Chronic low back pain, also called non-specific low back, is defined as pain that continues for 12 weeks or longer, even after an initial injury or underlying cause of acute low back pain has resolved. Back pain that persists for more than 3 months is caused by other factors other than tissue damage or injury. This is usually hard to believe for most back pain sufferers because it is only natural to associate the level of pain with the degree of tissue damage. “The more it hurts, the more damaged it is”, is the common belief. This is not true when it comes to chronic pain.
It goes without saying that because of the differences in the causative factors between acute and chronic low back pain, the treatment approaches for the two conditions ought to be different. Failure to understand this can create numerous problems for the back pain sufferer including worsening of symptoms, loss of function, and increased disability. Many people with chronic low back pain I have treated in 25 years of working as a physiotherapist have moved from one practitioner to the other seeking for relief of symptoms. In many situations, the relief in symptoms achieved tend to be minimal and short-lived.
The management of chronic low back pain requires a multi-factorial approach with the back pain sufferer at the centre of the intervention strategy. The aim here is to facilitate the person with chronic pain to understand why they hurt (when they don’t have tissue damage) and how to take an active role in the control and management of their symptoms.
There is hope for people suffering from low back pain form many years! Here is Zile’s story:
“For 30+ years I have been having this backache almost on daily basis. During the years it was diagnosed as spondylolisthesis. I was told to exercise, do physio, or undergo an operation. I went from one physio‘ to another and exercised to no avail. Then a couple of years ago I went to Hope Physio when it was so bad, I barely could walk. A few days after the pain started to subside and now I am completely pain-free. Thank you so much, ever so grateful!”
Zile has been pain-free for more than two years and has resumed her favourite activities. At Hope Physiotherapy Clinic, we give you the hope of taking back control of your back pain symptoms and getting back to your life activities. Book your appointment now.