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Lower Back Pain | What’s causing it?

Lower back pain is one of the most common reasons for people taking time off work and seeing a Doctor or a Physiotherapist. It is reported that 9 out of 10 people will experience some form of lower back pain in their lifetime. So don’t worry, you are not alone. Despite being such a common condition, many people suffering from these symptoms are still none the wiser as to what is causing it.

Physiotherapists play an essential role in assessing, educating, treating and preventing back pain. Done well, it is one of the most effective ways to treat back pain.

What is the cause of my lower back pain?

Pain Running

Whilst there are many causes, the vast majority of lower back pain has some kind of ‘mechanical’ cause with effective and rapid treatment solutions. Most of us will have had episodes of pain after bending awkwardly, lifting something heavy or doing repetitive movements such as gardening or DIY resulting in injury to the small joints of the back, disc, ligaments and muscle.

It makes sense that where there is a mechanical cause, there should also be a mechanical resolution. And this is generally the case as this type of back pain usually responds extremely well to conservative measures like manual therapy, exercise, Pilates and rehabilitation with recovery expected within a relatively short period of time.

Possible causes

One of the biggest causes of back pain are prolonged, static postures. ‘Static’ being the key word. A lot of emphasis has been placed on ‘the perfect posture’ over decades but this may not be the complete solution to the problem.

Sometimes the problem can become more established and require a longer term approach to treatment. These conditions could include nerve root compression due to a slipped disc (commonly causing sciatica), Spondylolisthesis, Stenosis and Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD).  These conditions generally require more extensive management including investigations (e.g. MRI and sometime X-ray), physiotherapy treatment and on occasions surgical intervention.

Lower Back Pain
Anatomy showing the lumbar spine joints and surrounding ligaments

These conditions often cause persistent back ache which gradually develops due to poor mobility and movement control in the lower back and surrounding areas. Joints and tissues become irritated and this leads to stiffness and pain. As a result the lower back muscles instigate a natural protective reaction by going into spasm. This can lead to further pain and discomfort. Intermittent ‘stabbing’ pain is another feature that can catch people ‘off-guard’ and this can understandably lead to a fear of movement – which only makes things worse. It is common for this kind of back pain to cause pain when sitting or standing for prolonged periods as well as lying in bed. Symptoms can last for months and become episodic over years if not treated effectively.

Physiotherapy is one of the most effective ways to treat back pain.

How can Physiotherapy treat my lower back pain?

Our treatment is gold-standard. It is hands on, tailored, patient-centred care and rehabilitation based on years of experience all under one roof. Our team at The Physios are experienced clinicians and together have treated over 15,000 patients so you can be confident that we know what we are doing.

During your assessment we will take the time to listen to your story. We will address any unexplained questions, give you a clear a diagnose and understanding of your problem. Then we will select the best treatment path for you. This will be tailored and targeted to your individual goals. Whether it be wanting to return to a sport or gym class, or just simply being able to walk and get a good night sleep pain free.

Manual therapy

Getting hands on! A lost art to many but an essential part of what we do. Manual therapy allows us to feel for the stiff and tight areas during your assessment and treatment, as well as provide some well needed pain relied in order to get you moving well. Techniques such as joint mobilisation & manipulation, soft tissue massage, taping and Acupuncture are just some examples.


Essentially the exercise bit. Manual therapy opens the door for us to get you moving well with less pain. Rehabilitation and exercise keeps it this way and helps prevent. We aim to make this as efficient and targeted as possible. Not giving you 25 exercises to do all in 1 day! More like 1 or 2 simple and effective exercises that work for you. All evidence-based and proven to work for your condition we will make sure you know exactly what you’re doing and where you’re going. Guiding you through our 3 levels of rehab at The Physios.


Pilates for lower back pain

Pilates for lower back pain is another way we can target and tailor your rehabilitation. It is all about regaining and maintaining control of your body. Long term this can be a significantly effective way to keep you pain free.