Managing Chronic Back Pain with Osteopathy

Posted In: Chronic Pain, Osteopathy

Nearly all of us experience chronic back pain in our lifetime. Acute upper and lower back pain is usually attributed to improper movement and usually gets better within a few days or weeks.

However, chronic back pain affects your everyday life for months or longer if it’s not treated. It is often due to more severe injury or a result or effect of degenerative conditions in your disks, bones, or joints. 

Thankfully, Osteopathy can help you manage your acute and chronic back pain. 

How does back pain present?

You usually know when you have back pain because you experience discomfort in your back (from your shoulders to your coccyx). Depending on the injury, you might describe the pain as:

  • A sharp pinch when you move into a specific position
  • A dull ache localized to a particular area
  • A sharp nerve pain that radiates to the closest limb
  • A feeling of general weakness in your back (some describe it as if they feel their back will collapse)
  • A sense of misalignment or that your spine is jammed together. 

What triggers back pain?

Back pain is typically the result of:

  • Poor posture
  • Sudden falls or accidents that are aimed at your spine (or where you move your spine in an unnatural way as a result of the impact)
  • Incorrect lifting posture and techniques
  • Repetitive motions of the neck, spine, and hips without proper stretching and breaks
  • Pain resulting from injuries of the neck or shoulders (such as from excessive desk work or repetitive motions)
  • Inactivity
  • Sports injury where you twisted or impacted the spine. 

How Osteopathy works

Osteopathy is a gentle, non-invasive therapy that can help bring your body back into alignment and relieve chronic back pain. It’s a personalized approach tailored to your unique needs, and painーthere is no one-size-fits-all approach for back pain. 

Osteopathic treatments use gentle muscle manipulation to alleviate muscle tension and are adjusted to your pain tolerance. You’ll also discuss other day-to-day lifestyle changes that can help you find relief from pain and avoid causing future injury. 

Depending on your injury, your treatment plan may include any or a combination of the following:

  • Soft Tissue Massage: to prepare muscle tissue for deeper treatment
  • Muscle Energy Technique: to help increase the range of motion in a joint
  • Osteopathic Joint Manipulation: to move a joint through the full range of motion
  • Balance Ligamentous Tension: to balance the ligaments in a joint
  • Myofascial Release and Trigger Point Therapy: to unwind scar tissue (knots)

Osteopaths can also suggest nutritional and lifestyle advice or referrals to other practitioners for a more holistic approach to healing when needed. 

Treating back pain with an Osteopath

An Osteopath may recommend getting X-rays to see the extent of your injuries before creating a treatment plan. Because back pain presents itself in different ways depending on the injury or reason for the pain, your treatment plan will be custom-made for you. 

You may be surprised when your Osteopath recommends treatments on other parts of your body besides your back. This is part of a holistic treatment that helps balance your whole body, not just where you’re experiencing pain. They may also provide treatments to your neck, hips, and knees. 

For best results, see an Osteopath within the first month of the injury. No matter what type of acute or chronic pains you’re experiencing, they can likely help. These include, but aren’t limited to: 

  • General aches and pain
  • Pain in joints
  • Rheumatic pains
  • Pregnancy back pain
  • Injuries due to improper posture
  • Car or workplace accidents
  • Muscle injury
  • Spinal disk problems
  • Sports injuries or tension
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Digestive struggles

How to support your recovery between Osteopathic treatments

While osteopathic treatments can significantly increase your healing, what you do between sessions is equally important. Here are three things your Osteopath may recommend doing at home between sessions:

Apply ice or heat:  Ice is recommended immediately after an injury and for the first 24-72 hours. Apply the ice or a cold pack for no longer than 20 minutes at a time to relieve pain, swelling, and inflammation. 

Heat can provide relief after 72 hours. A heated pad can help you relax your back muscles when there is no evident bruising or swelling. Consider getting an electric heating pad or microwavable rice bags (with fabric outside and a rice bag inside). 

Rest and gentle activity: Your Osteopath will likely recommend a combination of rest and gentle movement during your recovery. They can recommend gentle exercises you can perform at home to help increase blood flow to the injured or sore area to promote healing. You will also often be advised to rest to help avoid exacerbating the injury or causing a new one. 

Avoid any exercise or strenuous activities within a day of your last Osteopathic treatment.

Gentle Stretching: Some gentle stretching, as your Osteopath advises, can help your recovery. Core strength exercises can help you improve overall spine health and strength. Stretch only as far as you feel comfortable to avoid further injuring your back. Osteopathic treatments can help release tension in sore muscles so you can stretch them more easily between sessions. 

Your Osteopath can teach you stretches for your ability that can help your recovery without causing further injury. 

Where to find an available Osteopath in Vancouver

Finding available health practitioners in Vancouver can be a struggle. At Thuja Wellness, Ila Cassleman is accepting new patients now. Her clinic in the Regent Medical Building on West Broadway is a welcoming environment where you can discuss your health concerns in privacy, get an injury or pain assessment, and receive your customized Osteopathic treatment plan.

Book your appointment online today, and she’ll help you return to your day-to-day life without back pain.