Back Injuries

Physiotherapist looking at a spine with a patient

Back Pain

Back pain is a very common problem in today’s society with a very high percentage of the population experiencing back pain at some time in their lives.

Most back pain results from temporary damage to the muscles and ligaments of the back and will clear up within a few weeks.

Typical causes of back pain are:

  • Overstretching
  • Sitting, standing and bending over for long periods
  • Prolonged poor positioning
  • Trying to move excessive loads, or using poor lifting techniques
  • Trauma resulting from a fall
  • Poor levels of fitness
  • Being overweight


Occasionally, back pain can result from a more serious underlying condition such as osteoporosis or a slipped disc.

Physiotherapy treatment for back pain may include:

  • Pain relief through acupuncture or electrotherapy
  • Joint mobilisations and massage
  • Gentle exercise leading to more specific exercises designed to stretch and strengthen the back
  • Aerobic exercise such as walking
  • Education in correct posture to help prevent recurrence


Sciatica is characterised by pain felt in the lower back, buttock, and various parts of the leg and foot. It may be accompanied by numbness, muscular weakness, pins and needles or difficulty in controlling leg movement. The symptoms of sciatica usually affect only one side of the body.

The term ‘sciatica’ actually refers to irritation/compression of a specific nerve – the Sciatic nerve – but it is often used to describe any symptoms in the leg which are coming from the spine. It can be caused by many factors and therefore correct treatment can only be started after a comprehensive examination. In some people this will include an MRI scan.

For most people one of the most important factors in the early stage of sciatica is adequate and appropriate medication. Nerve pain can be particularly severe and relentless and this needs to be controlled. Medication will be prescribed by your GP.

Physiotherapy treatment in this early stage will include advise on levels of rest and activity, maybe some very gentle exercise to ease pain and perhaps acupuncture and/or electrotherapy.

As the condition settles, sciatica treatment may include mobilisation and manipulation to ease structures in the spine, exercise to improve the general condition of the spine and posture and lifestyle advise to prevent recurrences.