The lumbar spine, also known as the low back, is made up of five vertebrae which are supported by intervertebral discs, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.

The lumbar vertebrae are connected through various joints and have spaces for nerves to travel out and into the muscles.

These structures all work together to provide support and strength to the lumbar spine, and this allows you mobility and flexibility to move throughout your daily activities.

A businessman reaching his back due to low back pain

What causes your Lower Back Pain?

Low back pain is extremely common as the lower back is involved in many movements in our day-to-day life and it can result from a variety of different causes. Commonly this pain occurs due to injuries or strains to those structures which make up the lumbar spine.

These structures can be irritated by activities such as heavy physical work, frequent bending, twisting with lifting, surgery, or from a traumatic incident such as a car accident or a fall.

Additionally, sustaining prolonged static postures can also contribute to developing lower back pain.
These static postures may occur while sitting at a desk for long hours especially if you have an unsupportive chair or if you are sustaining slouched or poor posture.

Types of Low Back Pain

Non-specific low back pain is the most common cause of back pain.

This type of back pain can be classified into three types.

  1. It is acute if your pain has occurred for less than 6 weeks.
  2. If it has persisted for 6-12 weeks, it is considered sub-acute; and
  3. If the pain has extended beyond 12 weeks it can be classified as chronic.

Acute pain makes up the majority of low back pain and is typically related to mechanical causes.

These mechanical causes are associated with how the structures of the back are moving and working together. Some examples of mechanical injuries are spasms (contraction of muscles), strains affecting muscles, and tendons or sprains affecting the ligaments.

Since non-specific low back pain is not related to specific pathology this means that there are no links to serious diseases or injuries.

If, however you are experiencing a change in bowel or bladder control or weakness and numbness in the legs it would be beneficial to follow up with your doctor.

Pain in this area can also be related to degeneration which typically occurs with age and this can affect the discs and joints and potentially be due to arthritis or osteoporosis. The nerves can be impacted as well by compression or through narrowing of the structures which surround the nerves.

Common Signs and Symptoms of having Lower Back Pain

Low back pain symptoms can vary from person to person, and this is due to the variety of different structures that may be affected.

People may describe their pain as dull, aching, sharp, shooting, feeling like a muscle spasm, or radiating down into the legs. It can take up a small specific area or extend over a broad area in the back.

The onset of pain may come immediately after an injury to the back or may be delayed. It may also not be linked to a specific injury and can slowly develop over time or fluctuate.

Aggravating and easing factors can also range between individuals. Some may find symptoms worsen with prolonged sitting or standing while others may have specific movements that result in pain.

Check your Low Back Pain with Cypress Physiotherapy in North Vancouver

Regardless of if your pain is acute, sub-acute, or chronic, physiotherapy is an excellent way to help you manage your low back pain.

During the appointment, we will provide an assessment that is individually tailored to you. This will include gathering a detailed history from you and spending some time to identify any underlying causes of your back pain and dysfunction.

From there, our Cypress physiotherapists in North Vancouver will perform a detailed assessment of your back including the vertebrae, joints, muscles, and may also look at surrounding areas as dysfunction there can also contribute to back pain. This process will help us to determine the factors contributing to your pain and rule out any red flags that may require follow-up with your doctor.

Additionally, it will help us to determine which structures have been affected and this will allow the development of a rehabilitation plan tailored to your specific individual needs.

A physiotherapist demonstrating the structures around the lower back

Cypress Physiotherapy in North Vancouver

In order to treat your back pain, we made using a variety of physiotherapy treatment techniques such as manual therapy, Intramuscular stimulation (IMS), and non-pharmacological pain management.

Education will be provided on posture, utilizing positions that provide relief in order to manage pain, and avoiding aggravating movements to help you decrease your pain and prevent re-occurrences.

Additionally, exercise therapy may be a large part of the rehabilitation process. The goal of these exercises is to engage and strengthen the deep core muscles, pelvic floor muscles, and surrounding musculature in the back and buttock regions to provide you with optimal support throughout your daily activities and help you to resist forces or postures which may irritate your low back.

These exercises will be progressed over time and will become a resource to help you independently manage your lower back health. We can work with you to adapt movement patterns, address muscle weakness, muscle tightness, and mechanical dysfunctions.

Since low back pain has a high re-occurrence rate, physical therapy can be an important tool for you to help prevent and manage further episodes of pain.

Depending on your symptom severity and the period of time you have been experiencing symptoms your recovery time may vary.

For those who have milder symptoms, you should expect to see improvements within a few weeks, whereas those with chronic symptoms which have persisted over long periods of time may take up to 6-12 months to fully heal.

By understanding the orthopedic and biomechanical underpinnings of how the body works, we can selectively employ the right techniques and create a sustainable and effective care plan to help you get back to full, pain-free functioning and participating in the things you love.

Call or go online to book an appointment for your lower back pain with Cypress Physiotherapy and Health in North Vancouver.