Back Pain Sufferer?
I recently had a friend of mine tell me he had a really bad bout of back pain and he then proceeded to ask me if I knew a good chiropractor to treat it. Initially, I was quite surprised. My friend knew I was a physiotherapist but didn’t think to ask me for help. I quickly realized that he thought that chiropractors were the only ones to go to for low back pain. It struck me that he’s likely not alone! So, I thought here is an opportunity to hopefully dispel that myth.
Before I get started, I want to first state that I often co-treat with many chiropractors in our area and have found them to be competent in treating lower back pain. This article is not intended to be an US vs THEM argument but rather to highlight some of the many ways physiotherapy can help those suffering from lower back pain. In many cases seeing a physiotherapist first may actually be your best choice. So, let’s get started!
No Referral Required
Physiotherapy is a direct access health profession, which is a fancy way of saying you don’t require a referral from your family doctor to see us.
Previously, many health plans still required a referral in order for you to get reimbursed. However, thankfully, this is often not the case anymore. Both of our offices can direct bill many extended health plans. So, if you bring your benefits card with you, our customer care team can determine how much of your visit will be covered by your plan. Why does this all matter? Because if you’re in acute pain you can get in quickly to see us so we can hopefully get you back to feeling better soon.
Diagnosis is Key
The most important thing about lower back pain is to determine what structure is causing most of your symptoms. There is a big difference between how we will treat a herniated disc vs. a strained lower back muscle. All physiotherapists are university educated, many of whom possess a Master’s degree, and all of whom have to successfully pass several rigorous national written and practical regulatory exams. This last part is extremely important. Being a “regulated” health profession means there is a regulatory college in place to determine that certain standards of practice are followed so the general public can feel safe. Over the past several years there has been a proliferation of various unregulated health care practitioners who advertise their expertise in treating a wide variety of conditions. There is a reason that health plans will cover certain services, such as physiotherapy, and not others, and this mainly has to do with regulation.
In addition to the training above, much of which focuses on developing the skills and clinical reasoning necessary for proper diagnosis, all of our physiotherapists have several years of post-graduate training to further their ability to quickly and accurately diagnose lower back pain.
What you really want to know – HOW WE TREAT Back Pain
What you really want to know is how are we actually going to help you?! Well, once we’ve established the correct diagnosis (I can’t stress enough just how important that part is), we can develop a plan as to how we are going to get you feeling better again. This can involve several different things:
- Intramuscular stimulation or IMS to relieve tight muscles along the spine and any trigger points in associated tight areas, like your calf or hamstring muscles.
- Manual therapy to free up stiff joints along the spine that may be stuck and restricting your movement. This is commonly what people go to see chiropractors for. Our techniques are similar but also different from those used by chiropractors. Co-Owner Vince Avery will be writing a blog article on this very topic soon – so stay tuned for that!
- Soft tissue release and assisted stretching. If IMS or medical acupuncture is not tolerated or indicated, then often physiotherapists will release tight muscles by massaging deep trigger points and stretching the muscles around the lower back and hips.
- Customized exercise prescription! This is probably what people are most familiar with when they think of physiotherapists. Based on your diagnosis, we will craft a plan for you to work on at home to stretch muscles that are too tight, and strengthen other muscles that may be too weak.
Many of the items just described require post-graduate certification courses to be able to perform. We are lucky to have a team of physiotherapists who have put many hours of additional training to do just that. Check out their bios on our website to find out more. You can see our Cobble Hill staff here and our Duncan staff here.
Why seeing a Physiotherapist FIRST for Back Pain makes sense!
Hopefully, the above section shows you the wide variety of treatment methods that physiotherapists have at their disposal to manage lower back pain. This allows us to treat just about any type of lower back pain – herniated disc, lumbar strain, stiff facet joint, pinched nerve – we can help you out!
Registered Physiotherapist, Co-Owner of Thrive Now Physiotherapy