How to Treat Lower Back Ache (Physio Advice)

london physiotherapy lower back pain guide Physiotherapy in London

Back ache bothering you? Let us help! In this article, we are exploring the common causes behind this widespread condition, from everyday habits and muscle strains to more serious underlying issues. 

Our expert physiotherapists at One Body will also walk you through effective ways to treat and manage lower back pain, helping you find relief and improve your quality of life. Whether you’re dealing with occasional discomfort or chronic pain, this article contains the knowledge and tools needed to take control of your health.

Before we get stuck into the at-home treatments for lower back ache, let’s take a closer look at the condition.

Lower Back Ache Causes

Lower back ache is a super common issue that can present as a dull, persistent pain or sharp, acute discomfort in the lumbar region. This area of your back includes the five vertebrae (L1 to L5) at the base of the spine, with surrounding muscles, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissues. It supports much of your upper body’s weight, making it prone to strains and injury. 

The problem is that lower back pain can come with a whole range of different symptoms and many different causes.

Symptoms of lower back ache can include muscle stiffness, reduced range of motion, and discomfort that may radiate to your hips or legs. Causes range from poor posture and muscle overuse to more serious conditions like herniated discs or osteoarthritis

As physiotherapists, understanding these symptoms and the lumbar anatomy is crucial for providing you with effective treatment and relief. We often see patients with lower back pain who need a diagnosis, whether they come to us with constant pain or just aches when walking or stretching.

Your lower back pain could be caused by:

  • Sprains or strains to the surrounding muscles
  • Other injury, like a fracture
  • Disk tear, disk degeneration or a herniated disc
  • Arthritis or osteoarthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Osteoporosis
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Scoliosis
  • Simply bad posture!

The causes of lower back pain range from the ordinary to the serious, so if your symptoms are severe or don’t ease with time, you shouldn’t hesitate to seek medical help.

targeting trigger points to manage lower back ache and pain Physiotherapy in London

5 Ways to Treat Lower Back Aches

When your back begins to hurt, there is a lot you can do. There are obvious steps to take like avoiding lifting heavy objects, quick fixes like focusing on your posture, and long-term solutions like reducing strain on your back by losing weight.

These five ways to treat your lower back ache are recommended by our physiotherapists at One Body and can be tried at home or in a physio clinic.

Gentle Stretches

Lower back pain often arises from poor posture; compressing or stretching the spine and holding it in that position for hours at an end resulting in muscle stiffness and pain. Whether your back ache has come from hunching over or just sitting at your desk all day, gentle stretches can help you release this tension and pain.

Stretches that target tight muscles in your lower back, hamstrings and hip flexors can provide relief. You can find helpful videos on YouTube to stretch your body for back ache relief, but for professional advice, we recommend a quick session with a physiotherapist to help you understand what stretches will be best for your specific back ache.

Physio Massage

A great way to ease back pain is to take a hands-on approach. A review of 25 trials concluded that massage resulted in short-term relief from acute, sub-acute and chronic lower back pain. It also found that there were no serious adverse effects to massage, proving it to be a safe method to release your pain.

The best way to get an effective deep tissue massage is to book a session with a physiotherapist. A skilled therapist will know how to accurately and safely massage your back to release tension and ease your pain without causing further damage.

Ibuprofen

For immediate pain relief, try over-the-counter medications. You don’t need to see a doctor to take these medications – just read the instructions on the back of the packet.

We recommend ibuprofen for a backache, as this painkiller is anti-inflammatory. You can use it to reduce back pain for the short term, but if you want to cure your back pain for good you’ll need to resolve the root cause. To do this, you can stretch, get a massage, use compresses, and stay active. If nothing works, see a physiotherapist rather than relying on painkillers to get by.

Hot and Cold Compresses

To ease your lower back ache, you can try applying hot or cold compresses to the area. 

Heat packs or hot water bottles are great for joint stiffness and muscle spasms. If your lower back is aching or painful when you move, or you have limited mobility, a heat pack can be a good way to treat it.

However, if your lower back is swollen or inflamed, try an ice pack instead. Applying ice will numb the pain and hopefully reduce the swelling.

Whether you opt for heat or ice, our physiotherapists recommend wrapping the compress in a tea towel or other cloth. Directly applying a bag of frozen peas or hot water bottle to your lower back can irritate your skin.

Staying Active

If your back is so painful that you can barely move, that’s a sign that you should see a doctor or physiotherapist! However, for general aches and pains, you might be tempted to just rest at home and see if it passes.

Resting for a day or so can help you recover a little… but generally, it’s best to stay active. Try to go through your usual daily routine, taking it slow and steady. If you want to try a workout or need to exercise, opt for low-impact activities like walking or swimming.

Staying active should be an effective way to ease your pain and strengthen your back.

staying active to heal lower back pain and aches Physiotherapy in London

When to See a Physiotherapist

Back pain is considered chronic once you reach the 12-week mark – that’s a good time to visit a physiotherapist for a thorough assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan. But you don’t necessarily need to wait that long. You shouldn’t have to put up with the aches and pains of a bad back!

Whether your back ache is preventing you from relaxing, getting a good night’s sleep, or taking care of your daily chores, a physiotherapist can help. The goal of physio is to restore your function and help you live free of pain.

To treat your back ache, we will develop a treatment plan that’s targeted to your symptoms and the cause of your back ache. To get started, book your first session with One Body today. We have state-of-the-art physio clinics located across London and you can even use your private health insurance policy to cover the cost!

Book a physiotherapy session today.

FAQs

Why does your lower back hurt?

There are many causes of lower back aches and pains. Common causes include straining the muscles in your lower back or simply maintaining poor posture while you work or relax.

How to loosen a stiff lower back?

For stiff muscles, applying a heat pack and doing some gentle stretches can help to loosen the muscles and restore your range of motion.

Can you prevent lower back pain?

To prevent lower back pain from returning, you can focus on maintaining good posture, wearing supportive footwear, potentially losing weight to reduce the strain on your back, and strengthening the muscles around your lumbar area.

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Kurt Johnson CEO
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