Lower Back Pain

 What causes Lower Back Pain ?

Lower back pain is a very common problem in the UK – with eight out of ten people suffering from it at some point during their lives.

It can affect anyone, at any age, and is often triggered by simple, everyday actions. It is most helpful for you, the Patient and myself if we both know what may have caused your pain. You maybe surprised to hear that many people DON’T know what caused it.

I will run through some common scenarios that keep cropping up in my work, with the vast majority of patients fitting in with the following scenarios.


This may have been a very memorable onset, such as a road traffic accident or heavy fall, in which case you may be able to directly link the cause and resulting pain and stiffness.

Sometimes, however one can’t recall the incident, or you may not think it relevant because it didn’t seem to hurt you at the time. It often takes a couple of days, or sometimes much longer for the symptoms to appear.



such as bending, twisting, lifting, coughing, sneezing etc. If you fall into this category then you will almost certainly remember it’s sudden onset, either a twinge or sharp pain.


3) REPETITIVE STRAIN ( or overuse strain ) :

Common causes include, gardening, DIY, repetitive lifting at work, or

indeed, anything which results in a strain.


4) COMPRESSION STRAIN : Sitting is a common cause.

Either a poor sitting position or sitting for too long, for example, a long car journey, being stuck in a meeting or long haul flight. In reality though, the length of time one spends sitting down may not be as important as the position of one’s spine and pelvis. Compression of Pain-sensitive structures can lead to injury and subsequent pain; imagine trying to sort a plumbing job under the kitchen sink; it should have only taken a few seconds but you were bent up double for ten minutes.

These causes may occur as a single entity, or as a combination of them. In whichever way the spine is strained, there is an inflammatory reaction. The result is pain and stiffness, and loss of function. Depending on which part(s) have been strained; and how severely, the pain and stiffness maybe anything from 0-10 (on the pain scale).

Usually, a simple mechanical strain would be improving within Five days or so. Sometimes however, everyday activities, which of course may involve some of the Causative factors ( sitting, bending etc. ) maybe responsible for MAINTAINING the strain, in other words, stopping it getting better.

One vital part of Robert’s work is to recognise as many of these factors as possible. He will discuss, advise, demonstrate a number of techniques and exercises that will help heal the painful area. During the session he will use a variety of gentle Osteopathic and soft tissue techniques to restore mobility and to reduce pain. A combination of :

1) Treatment,

2) Doing the Exercises and things I will show you, and

3) avoiding the Maintaining Factors, will be a winning formula, returning you back to normal as rapidly as possible.


Acute Lower back pain – defined as lasting less than 6 weeks

It is very common – 80% of the adult population in this country will have a significant episode of back pain in their life. Around 10% of the population, have back pain at any one time. It can come on quite suddenly, or over time, and can be caused by lifting or moving awkwardly. However, more often than not, acute back pain comes on without any specific injury to your back. The pain can come on suddenly, or over time and can range from a mild pain or ache to quite severe pain. Osteopaths we will help choose the right treatment to get you moving again quickly.


Some causes of Acute Lower Back Pain include-

Prolapsed Intervertebral Disc

– Facet Joint Pain

– Lower Back Muscle Strain

– Strain of Lower Back Ligaments


Chronic Back Pain – defined as lasting more than 3 months.

The pain and distress can last for much longer and it can have a large impact on your day-to-day life. It can often be associated with stress and some level of depression as it can result in time off work or stop you participating in leisure activities. Chronic back pain can range from a mild pain or ache, to a more severe pain. Chronic back pain usually requires a more structured approach to treatment and management. Osteopaths will work with you, choosing the right treatment and advice for your condition.

How can an Osteopathy help?

  • Osteopathy is well known for treating back pain and patients report high satisfaction with treatment. There is good quality evidence supporting the beneficial effects of manipulation for back pain and the National Institutes for Clinical Excellence recommends osteopathy for sub-acute and chronic low back pain
  • I can use a wide range of gentle manual treatments depending on your age, fitness and diagnosis. We may gently massage the soft tissues of your back or rhythmically “rock” the joints to release tension and sometimes we may gently manipulate the back to loosen the joints and you may hear a “click”
  • Treatment is different in every individual and sometimes it might involve treating other areas in the body such as the hips or neck
  • I may offer advice on your lifestyle particularly if I feel something you are doing repetitively is part of the reason why you have back pain. I may offer advice on your posture and give advice on diet and exercise or give you specific exercises.



Acute Lower back pain

Chronic Lower back pain

Some Disc problems

Mechanical back pain


Ankylosing spondylitis



Arthritis Research UK
National Osteoporosis Society