Back pain Prevention

The majority of patients responding to basic extension and flexion principles of treatment have been educated in the means of achieving pain relief and restoring function. They have carried out the self-treatment procedures and have to a large extent become independent of therapists. Following successful treatment it requires little emphasis to convince patients that if they were able to reduce and abolish pain already present, it should also be possible to prevent the onset of any significant future low back pain.

Of all the factors predisposing to low back pain only postural stresses can be easily influenced and fully controlled. We must develop this potential ingredient of prophylaxis to the full. The patient must understand that the risks of incurring low back pain are particularly great when the lumbar spine is held in sustained flexed positions; and that when the lordosis is reduced or eliminated for prolonged periods, he must at regular intervals and before the onset of pain make a conscious effort to interrupt flexion, restore the lordosis and accentuate it momentarily to the maximum. It is essential that the patient knows the reasons for doing this, and therefore we must explain to him in lay terms that on restoring the lordosis the intradiscal pressure decreases, the nuclear fluid moves anteriorly and the posterior stresses in and around the disc are reduced.


Briefly summarised, the following prophylactic measures should always be taken:

  • Prolonged sitting requires (a) maintenance of the lordosis by muscular control of the posture or, preferably, by insertion of a lumbar roll, (b) hourly interruption of sitting by standing up, walking around for a few minutes and accentuating the lordosis by a few repetitions of extension in standing (Proc. 6).
  • Activities involving prolonged stooping require (a) interruption of stooping at regular intervals by standing upright, (b) regularly reversing the curvature of the lumbar spine, restoring and accentuating the lordosis by a few repetitions of extension in standing (Proc. 6).
  • Lifting requires (a) the use of the correct lifting technique. Generally, if the object to be lifted exceeds fifteen kilograms, the strain must be taken with the lumbar spine in lordosis and the lift must be performed using the legs. If the object to be lifted weighs under fifteen kilograms less care is necessary, unless one has been in a bent or sitting position for some time prior to the lift. In the latter case the same rules apply as for lifting weights exceeding fifteen kilograms, (b) accentuation of the lordosis before and after lifting by a few repetitions of extension in standing (Proc. 6).
  • If inadvertently pain has developed during sitting, stooping or lifting, the patient should immediately commence extension in lying (Proc. 3).
  • Extension in standing (Proc. 6), very effective in preventing the onset of pain, is less effective when used to reduce present pain. Extension in lying (Proc. 3) is the technique of first aid for back pain.
  • Recurrence: At the first sign of recurrence the patient should immediately commence the procedures which previously led to recovery. Although an episode of low back pain can commence suddenly and without warning, many patients are aware of a minor degree of discomfort before the onset of severe pain. If this type of warning is given, the patient has an excellent chance to prevent the development of symptoms, provided the appropriate procedure is applied immediately.
READ:   Acute Low Back Pain. General Instructions

It is not possible for patients to remember all verbal instructions and advice given during the first treatment. To avoid tedious repetition and to ensure the necessary information is conveyed to the patient, a list of instructions is supplied on the first visit. This list firstly deals with information for patients in the acute stage of low back pain, and secondly provides information required once recovery has taken place. These instructions form an important part of self-treatment, because when followed properly they will help in reduction of present symptoms and prevention of their recurrence.

GATE CONTROL THEORY OF PAIN What occurs at the cellular level when pain is experienced? The gate control theory of pain, by P. D. Wall and Ronald Melzack, offers a useful model of the physiological process of pain. Gate control is recognized as a major pain theory. According to the gate control theory, pain is a balance between information traveling into the spinal cord through large nerve fibers and information traveling into the spinal cord through small nerve fibers. Without any stimulation, both the large and small nerve fibers are quiet, and the substantia gelatinosa (SG) blocks the signal to the transmission cell (T cell) connected to the brain. The “gate is closed,” and there is no pain. With pain stimulation, small nerve fibers are active. They activate the T-cell neurons but block the SG neuron, making it impossible for the SG to block the T-cell transmission to the brain. The result is that the “gate is open”; therefore, there is pain. In other words, pain is experienced whenever the substances that ...
TYPICAL TREATMENT PROGRESSION — THE DYSFUNCTION SYNDROME Day one Assessment and conclusion/diagnosis. Explanation of the cause of dysfunction and the treatment approach. Postural correction and instructions, especially regarding sitting; demonstrate the use of a lumbar support. Commence with exercises to recover function — that is, extension in lying, flexion in lying, or side gliding in standing, whatever procedure is indicated. Emphasise the need to experience some discomfort during the exercises, and the importance of frequent exercising during the day. If flexion in lying is recommended, we must warn to stop exercising if the symptoms quickly worsen. We may have overlooked derangement, or commenced the procedure too early following recent derangement. Always follow flexion exercises with some extension. Day two Confirm diagnosis. Check postural correction. Completely repeat'postural correction and instructions. Check exercises. If improving nothing should be changed. If not improving, ensure tha...
EFFECTIVE PAIN MANAGEMENT According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a federal agency established in 1989, there are three major barriers to effective pain management: the health-care system health-care professionals clients The health-care system is slow to hold itself accountable for assessing and relieving pain. Many professionals suggest that assessment of pain be included with the measurement of taking vital signs, such as temrerature, pulse, respiration, and blood pressure. Pain assessment would be the fifth vital sign. It is helpful to remember that heart rate and blood pressure may increase with acute pain but not necessarily with chronic pain. The belief is that routinely assessing and relieving pain would prove more cost effective than ignoring the issue. Health professionals are not always educated about the meaning of and assessment of pain management and may be concerned about the use of opioids (narcotics), mainly due to possible addiction. Clients and their fam...
Spine Health. PROCEDURE 1 — LYING PRONE The patient adopts the prone lying position with the arms alongside the trunk and the head turned to one side. In this position the lumbar spine falls automatically into some degree of lordosis. Fig. Lying prone. Effects In derangement with some degree of posterior displacement of the nuclear content of the disc the adoption of procedure 1 may cause, or contribute to, the reduction of the derangement provided enough time is allowed for the fluid nucleus to alter its position anteriorly. A period of five to ten minutes of relaxed prone lying is usually sufficient. This procedure is essential and the first step to be taken in the treatment and self-treatment of derangement. In patients with a major derangement, such as those presenting with an acute lumbar kyphosis, the natural lordosis of prone lying is unobtainable. These patients cannot tolerate the prone position unless they are lying over a few pillows, supporting their deformity in kyphosis. In minor derangement situat...
Spine Health. PROCEDURE 5 — SUSTAINED EXTENSION To apply a sustained extension stress to the lumbar spine an adjustable couch, one end of which may be raised, is a necessary piece of equipment. The patient lies prone with his head at the adjustable end of the couch which is gradually raised, about one to two inches at the time over a five to ten minute period. Once the maximum possible degree of extension is reached, the position may be held for two to ten minutes, according to the patient’s tolerance. When lowering the patient the adjustable end of the couch should slowly be returned to the horizontal over a period of two to three minutes. This must not be done rapidly, for acute low back pain may result. Fig. Sustained extension. Effects: The procedure is predominantly used in the treatment of derangement. The effect is similar to that of the third procedure, but a time factor is added with the graduated increase and the sustained nature of the extension. In certain circumstances a sustained extension stress is preferable...