80% of Australians would have experienced at least one episode of lower back pain in their lifetime. With lower back pain being one of the most disabling conditions in our nation, finding an effective way to manage this problem is undoubtedly crucial.
Cause of one’s lower back pain has long been difficult to diagnose, this can be attributed to the complexity of structures involved and similarity of pain presentation shared among different scenerios. Structures like muscles, joints, discs, and ligaments, each possesses different characteristics in its role of pain presentation. An area of pain can be classified into specific, non-specific or even overlapping, with several possible structures to consider, they together pose a challenge to practitioners who are desperate for an accurate diagnosis. This may result in less than ideal treatments being offered, hence a disappointing result.
With AMA and APA (Australian Physiotherapy Association) both discourage routine requests for lower back imaging, e.g. X-ray or CT scan, as evidence has shown that it does not contribute to better patient care, it’s therefore crucial to ensure coordinated care between physio, general practitioner, and medical specialist are in place to form an accurate diagnosis. Thorough examinations to isolate likely causes will form the basis of pain management, may that be conservative physiotherapy approach or surgical intervention.