In some cases, Low Back Pain (LBP) can be attributed to a particular event or anatomical cause, however recent evidence has indicated that only ~10% of people with LBP have a specific and identifiable (pathoanatomical) diagnosis. Hence, the majority of LBP cases are diagnosed as having non-specific low back pain (NSLBP).
Old beliefs around LBP have focused on the idea that structural changes to the back have created ‘degeneration’ and ‘instability’. However, it is important to know that there is very little evidence to suggest a relationship between spinal or pelvic mobility, degeneration and the disability or pain someone may be experiencing. Instead, lifestyle behaviours (physical & mental), stress and other social influences are all factors that have shown to be more accurate in predicting future episodes of LBP.
Rather than thinking of LBP as a disease or a disorder we should frame it as a symptom, with each person’s experience of LBP being entirely unique to the individual themselves. As such, everyone’s rehabilitation journey will vary and there is no such thing as a one size fits all approach.
I have been told my back is damaged, is it safe to exercise?
Whilst there are some instances where precautions may need to be taken in the short-term, the good news is that tissue healing generally resolves within three months. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort beyond this time frame it is likely that other factors such as inactivity, fatigue, stress, tension, or abnormal loading may be contributing to your symptoms. In some cases, scans may actually be a misrepresentation of pain with research indicating that many anatomical abnormalities are also found in people without any back pain.
It is important to note that just because you are experiencing pain it doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing any harm. It’s actually quite normal and very safe to experience some pain with movement and exercise. Thankfully our backs (and our bodies) are very strong and resilient structures, and exercise and movement has been proven as one of the most effective ways to help treat back pain.
So, in effect, yes, it is likely that you will be safe to exercise and perform activities such as walking, running, lifting or whatever is most relevant to you as long as it is done in a gradual and progressive manner on a consistent basis.
If you are finding it increasingly difficult to manage your persistent back pain, the best advice we can give you is to reach out and start a conversation with us. Let us support you on your journey - together we can find a way to help you move well and enjoy the things that make you happy.