The Best Holistic Approach to Back Pain

Physio examines a seated patient's backPhysiotherapist’s guide to help you get on with your life quickly


By Tech Ding, Sundial physiotherapist


Most of us experience back pain at some point in our lives, and it can significantly change the way we do things and limit our activities. In some cases, it may feel like you can’t return to the same level of activity or athleticism as before due to the frustrating pain that’s constantly bothering you. Taking over-the-counter painkillers might mask the pain, but unfortunately the effect is not permanent and doesn’t solve the underlying cause. As a physiotherapist, I approach back pain by looking at not just your back, but your entire body as a whole to identify the root cause of your back pain. 


What causes back pain?

There are many different factors that can cause back pain, such as excessive bending and lifting, poor posture, or even stress. You might feel a localised pain in your back, but most of the time it is a matter of muscle and joint compensation or inhibition mechanisms that can either lead to back pain, or even as a result of back pain. It is important to correct these mechanisms as soon as possible to prevent any delay in your recovery.  

A prime example that illustrates muscle problems and back issues is the relationship between the hip muscles and back pain. When it’s unpleasant to move the back due to pain, the brain starts generating signals which tells the body to ‘protect’ the back by limiting movement there, and the hip muscles start to over-work and take over the job of the back muscles. This is not protecting the back at all, and not only is it a risk of developing hip pain in the future, but also detrimental to recovery from back pain. 


Do I need a scan for back pain?

You will most likely wonder, what is really going on in my back that’s causing the pain. Do I need to get a scan? The answer is- not really. We all have normal changes in our spine as we age, but this can be scary to some people and cause them to avoid activities that are actually beneficial for their back pain. In less than 2% of the time, there might be a more serious underlying condition that’s causing your back pain, but a GP or physiotherapist will refer you to a scan if they suspect anything serious from their findings.


Is it bad to move my back if it hurts?

One of the main myths of back pain is that moving your back will make it worse. This myth really should not exist, as evidence shows that movement is essential to make your back healthier and stronger. Physiotherapists can help you to get back on track by forming a personalised treatment plan just for you, using manual therapy with a home rehabilitation programme to relieve your back pain. Where indicated, you will also have an assessment of work ergonomics (posture) and lifestyle factors that may contribute to your back pain. 

Here at Sundial, we are dedicated to solving your back pain through a simple three-step process – get a consultation; we make a diagnosis then start effective treatment. Together, we will work towards the ultimate goal of you returning to an active, pain-free life. 

Tech Ding