Lower Back Pain

Picture Conor McCabe Photography.

Lower back pain (LBP) is very common with a lifetime prevalence rate of 60-80%, meaning that most of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives. There may not always have been an identifiable incident or injury but triggers include twisting, lifting, falling, vibration, impact, poor/ altered posture, poor work practices and muscle imbalance around the spine. The source of the pain can include the muscles, discs, joints and nerves. Sometimes lower back pain can refer pain down into the buttocks and into the legs. This pain down the back of your thigh or leg is also referred to as “sciatica.”

Musculoskeletal physiotherapists are experts at treating lower back pain and referred leg pain. Evidence based research supports the effectiveness of physiotherapy in treating both acute and chronic lower back pain. Aims of treatment include reducing pain, improving spinal mobility, improving postural control of your muscles, return to your normal activity/sport and prevention of recurrence. Manual therapy (“hands on treatment”) helps to reduce pain, which allows for earlier return to activity and improved clinical outcomes. Good exercise prescription is an integral part of this rehabilitation programme as it allows for earlier return to activity, significantly improves outcomes for chronic lower back pain and is the only effective treatment for preventing recurrence (see below).

The bigger problem you may have is that when it resolves there is a very high chance (80%) of it recurring again in the future. Exercise is the only form of treatment that can prevent recurrence of lower back pain. A specific type of exercise, for the deep muscles in your lower back that have become inhibited by pain have been shown in research to significantly reduce recurrence rates. Both Ciara and Louise undertook Masters Degrees in the University of Queensland in Australia, where there is exciting research ongoing into the role these muscles play in injury prevention and in reducing recurrence rates.

Top tips for Lower Back Pain: what you can do before seeing your physiotherapist:

  • Keep active
  • Seek advice from your G.P. or pharmacist regarding painkillers to help control your pain while allowing you to stay active
  • Watch your posture (see blog regarding tips on posture)
  • Avoid bed rest – we now know that bed rest for more than a day or two is the worst treatment and in fact delays recovery.
  • Stay positive – how you psychologically cope with pain can help affect your recovery

Contact us now to seek an expert assessment, a tailored treatment plan and start the road to recovery.


Have you taken our back pain quiz?  https://iona.webdemo.ie/back-pain-quiz/