Avenue Clinic

Avenue Clinic

Low Back…Sensation?

It’s been a while since I’ve come across a blog on that popular topic, the lower back.  Seeing as it affects approximately 40% of the worlds population, I wanted to bring an alternative interpretation to the table. Hopefully by the end of this you will be thinking differently about your back and the sensations you experience.

You may have realised from talking about it to your family or friends, that it affects us all differently. For this reason, I won’t be advising what you should or should not do, but rather get you thinking about what you are feeling there. For some it will be persistent and annoying, for others it will be episodic and recurrent. It’s as if it comes and goes, sometimes leaving you without any clue what triggers it or makes it go away. Same goes for its management, what works for some may not work for others, which leaves you not sure what could work for you.

Have a think about your lower back. Close your eyes if you have to. Visualise it if you can. What do you see when you look at it? More importantly, what do you feel there? Can you map it out? Does that sensation have boundaries or a shape?

When you experience these sensations, are you able to allow them to just be. Not ignore them, but identify them to subsequently reduce its role on your daily routine.

Recognising these sensations and identifying them can help alter your automatic reactions during uncomfortable movements. Additionally, it can help how you interpret the sensations. One key point I ask my patients to take away with them, is to simply listen to what their body is telling them and respond accordingly. If you need to slow down, then do so. If your body is telling you that your current position is uncomfortable, then change it. Simply, keep moving.

So, who decided that you cannot do certain activities or movements and why? The spine is designed to move and carry with it weight and forces that enable us to perform movements.  Without turning this blog into a massive literature review, there are a number of articles out there which evidence that movement is key to managing discomfort in the lower back. For example, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommend increasing your physical activity as an adjunct to manual therapy treatment from a healthcare professional.

You may not have noticed that during this blog, I have not mentioned the word ‘pain‘ once. That’s because pain is only one of many sensations in the body. After all, all sensations are simply a signal to the brain that something being stimulated somewhere on the body. Sometimes, the origin is an area that isn’t even where you feel it. It is through experiences that we perceive and attribute these sensations to positive and negative categories.

This brings in to play a form of mindfulness which helps us become more aware of our body’s capabilities. Maybe we should all be open to discovering ways to develop greater flexibility to discomfort, so that we can improve the way we regulate our movements on a daily basis.

I would encourage all individuals who are experiencing new pain or persistent/worsening low back pain to seek advice from their GP or other healthcare professional in the first instance.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about the sensations you experience (not only limited to the low back), or for advice about managing persistent pain better, please get it contact with us.

Dan Bihet
Registered Osteopath
MSc Ost., BSc (Hons) ST


References & Links Carnes, D., Mars, T., Plunkett, A., Nanke, L. and Abbey, H. (2017)  A mixed methods evaluation of a third wave cognitive behavioural therapy and osteopathic treatment programme for chronic pain in primary care (OsteoMAP). International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine24, pp.12-17

Gliedt, J.A., Schneider, M.J., Evans, M.W., King, J. and Eubanks, J.E. (2017) The biopsychosocial model and chiropractic: a commentary with recommendations for the chiropractic profession. Chiropractic & manual therapies25(1), p.16.

Setchell, J., Costa, N., Ferreira, M., Makovey, J., Nielsen, M. and Hodges, P.W. (2017) Individuals’ explanations for their persistent or recurrent low back pain: a cross-sectional survey. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders18(1), p.466. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng59/chapter/Recommendations

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