Physio for Back Pain

an image of a physio for back pain

Looking for a physio for back pain? As experienced Melbourne CBD-based physiotherapists, we offer fast relief for those with back pain – whether it’s lingered for years or come about seemingly overnight.

Affecting approximately 1 in 6 Australians and costing the Australian health system $4.8 billion per annum, back pain is a highly prevalent, complex condition that impacts productivity and quality of life. Draining and confusing, it can significantly disrupt daily activities, leading individuals to seek relief through treatments including physiotherapy.

An effective treatment option, physiotherapy offers a comprehensive approach to managing and alleviating back pain, addressing the underlying causes, improving mobility, and enhancing overall well-being. By utilising a combination of manual therapy, exercise prescription, and patient education, our skilled and caring physiotherapy team will empower you to take control of your back health and live a pain-free life.

What Causes Back Pain?

Prolonged periods of sitting, incorrect posture and poor ergonomics are responsible for much of the back pain we see in our office-based Melbourne CBD clients. However, it can stem from myriad factors, including lifestyle choices and underlying medical conditions.

Common causes of back pain include:

  • Poor Posture: Prolonged sitting or standing with improper posture can strain the back’s muscles and ligaments, causing discomfort. We see this every day in our desk-bound clients.
  • Muscle Strain: Overexertion, lifting heavy objects incorrectly, or sudden movements can result in muscle strains or sprains in the back.
  • Degenerative Disorders: Conditions such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease can cause the structures of the spine to deteriorate over time.
  • Herniated Discs: When the soft inner core of a spinal disc protrudes through the tough outer layer, it can compress nearby nerves, causing pain.
  • Trauma or Injury: Accidents, falls, or trauma can lead to acute or chronic back pain, depending on the injury.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Obesity, lack of exercise, smoking and excessive drinking can increase the risk of developing back pain by placing stress on the spine.
an image of chronic low back pain

Who is Susceptible to Back Pain

Back pain isn’t constrained to professionals but is equally common among athletes and tradespeople. It can affect individuals of all ages and backgrounds, but certain factors may increase your susceptibility:

  • Age: As we age, the structures of the spine undergo wear and tear, making older adults more prone to back pain.
  • Occupation: Jobs that involve heavy lifting (such as trades), repetitive motions (eg. house painting), or prolonged sitting (truck drivers) or standing (shop assistants) can lead to back pain.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle: Lack of physical activity weakens the muscles supporting the spine, increasing susceptibility to back pain.
  • Genetics: Some people inherit structural abnormalities or genetic predispositions that increase their risk of developing back pain.
  • Mental Health Conditions: Stress, anxiety, and depression can exacerbate back pain by triggering muscle tension and affecting pain perception.

Different Types of Back Pain

Back pain can manifest in various forms and affect different areas of the spine:

  1. Lower Back Pain (Lumbar Region): Impacting around 4 out of 5 people at some stage in life, the most common type of back pain, lower back pain (LBP), affects the lower or lumbar spine. It can range from mild discomfort to debilitating pain and may radiate to the buttocks or legs, a condition known as sciatica.
  2. Upper Back Pain (Thoracic Region): Pain in the upper back may result from poor posture, muscle strain, or underlying conditions affecting the thoracic spine.
  3. Neck Pain (Cervical Region): Neck pain often accompanies back pain and can result from muscle tension, cervical spine disorders, or poor ergonomics.
  4. Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction: Dysfunction or inflammation of the sacroiliac joint, located at the base of the spine, can cause pain in the lower back and buttocks.
  5. Scoliosis: An abnormal curvature of the spine, scoliosis can lead to back pain, muscle imbalances, and reduced mobility.
Spinal structure. Image courtesy of Cleveland Clinic.

How Physiotherapy Can Help with Back Pain Relief

Physiotherapists spend many years studying the anatomy of the spine and its surrounding structures, as well as the way our bodies move, factors that influence pain, and how pain signals are sent between the body and the brain. A large part of our training is to keep up to date with the latest research and evidence-based practice guidelines.

 As a result, physiotherapy plays a vital role in the management and treatment of back pain, offering personalised interventions to address the underlying causes and symptoms.

It can help with:

  • Pain Management: Physiotherapists employ techniques such as manual therapy, massage, and joint mobilisation, to alleviate pain in the back.
  • Improved Mobility and Flexibility: Through targeted exercises and stretches, physiotherapy can improve the range of motion of the spine, reducing stiffness and enhancing flexibility.
  • Strengthening Weak Muscles: Weakness in the core can contribute to pain in the lumbar spine, in particular. As well as strengthening the back, glute, core and leg strengthening exercises can address muscle imbalances and improve spinal stability.
  • Postural Correction: Educating patients on posture and body mechanics is a fundamental aspect of physiotherapy. By optimising posture and ergonomics, you’ll reduce strain on the spine and help prevent future pain.
  • Rehabilitation: Following a back injury or surgical procedure, physiotherapy plays a crucial role in rehabilitation, helping patients regain strength, mobility, and function.
  • Patient Education: Physiotherapists educate patients about their condition, contributing factors, and strategies for self-management, empowering them to take an active role in their recovery.
an image of manual therapy

Techniques Used in Physio for Back Pain

Physiotherapists employ different modalities to address back pain, including:

  • Hands-on Therapy Techniques: Techniques such as spinal manipulation, mobilisation, and soft tissue mobilisation are commonly used to restore joint mobility, alleviate pain, and improve tissue function.
  • Clinical Pilates: Pilates exercises focusing on core strength, stability, and postural alignment are an effective tool for managing back pain. Taken by a physio, our Clinical Pilates classes may be very beneficial for strengthening and back and surrounding structures to reduce pain and prevent it from recurring.
  • Kinesio Taping: The application of specialised elastic tape to the skin can provide support to muscles and joints, reduce pain, and improve circulation, facilitating the healing process.
  • Dry Needling: Dry needling involves inserting thin needles into trigger points or tight muscles to alleviate pain, improve muscle function, and promote healing.
An image of physiotherapy assessment

Why Choose The Alignment Studio for Your Back Pain Treatment?

At The Alignment Studio, we have a multidisciplinary team of health professionals with decades of experience. Your care starts the minute you walk in the door, as our staff and facilities allow for a calming experience. We pride ourselves on taking the time to listen to our patients, as understanding what’s important to you and what’s causing your pain helps us deliver long-term impacts.

Our holistic approach and passion for helping our patients feel better and accomplish their goals reverberate through the clinic. Each practitioner has a wealth of knowledge, and we believe it important to incorporate our patients into their care – finding the most meaningful treatment plan for you. This includes teaching you about your body and its anatomy using online resources and physical models to help further understanding.

Our team regularly reviews new research and updates our skills to have you feeling better quickly. We provide you with a personalised at-home exercise program to keep you moving and pain-free.

We also have a beautiful exercise studio where our physios can guide you through exercises. It is equipped with Pilates and gym equipment to rehabilitate and challenge people with varied levels of fitness. Individual and small group Clinical Pilates and exercise sessions can also be used to aid your recovery. Together, we’ll help you return to the things you love and even work towards goals that previously might not have felt achievable.

an image of acute low back pain

Our Back Pain Treatment Approach

A key to managing back pain is to ask questions, assess different movements, and find any underlying mechanisms driving an individual’s pain. At The Alignment Studio, we tailor the appointment to the individual, to improve symptoms as quickly as possible and get you back doing the things you love.

Helping our patients understand their backs and what is causing their pain is an important step. From there, we take the time to individualise a treatment approach, using a variety of hands-on therapy techniques, including soft tissue massage, trigger point release, muscle stretching, muscle activating, and joint mobilisations to settle your symptoms. These physiotherapy techniques help to relax muscles that may be sore due to overactivity or spasm.

Requiring a professional understanding of the degree of movement that occurs at every joint in the body, Joint mobilisation is a physiotherapist’s way of guiding a stiff or sore joint into its regular ranges of motion. Working at the joint level can increase the body’s larger, more global movements and decrease pain experienced while moving. Exercise has been proven to help reduce back pain and shorten its duration. Our physios take the information from their assessments and provide patients with exercises to help relieve their pain and prevent future recurrences. Combining manual therapy, education, and exercise keeps our patients pain-free and able to go about their daily lives.

an image of an experienced physiotherapist in melbourne


What will a physio do for back pain?

Physios address back pain with a multifaceted approach, starting with a comprehensive assessment to understand the pain’s severity, causes, and aggravating factors. Treatment typically involves exercises to improve strength and flexibility, manual therapy techniques like massage and joint mobilisation, and education on posture, body mechanics and self-management techniques.

Your physio may also employ modalities such as heat or ice therapy or dry needling and provide guidance on activity modification and pain management strategies. Throughout the process, physiotherapists monitor progress and adjust the treatment plan as needed to optimise outcomes.

If there is serious pathology present, your physio may refer you to a specialist. If surgery is required, they can assist with your preparation and rehab.

How do I know if my back pain is muscle or spine?

Distinguishing between muscle-related and spinal-related pain can be challenging but certain signs may indicate the source. Muscle-related pain often feels like a dull ache, worsens with movement, and may be accompanied by muscle tightness or spasms. In contrast, spinal-related pain may involve sharp or shooting sensations, radiate down the legs or arms, and worsen with specific movements like bending or twisting.

Additionally, spinal-related pain may be associated with neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or weakness in the limbs. Consulting with a physiotherapist for a thorough evaluation is essential for appropriate management.

Does physical therapy really work for back pain?

Physical therapy can be very effective for managing back pain. Research has consistently shown that physical therapy can improve pain, function, and quality of life for sufferers. By combining an exercise program with manual therapy techniques and education, physical therapists help address the underlying causes of your pain, improve strength and flexibility, correct posture and movement patterns, and empower individuals to manage their symptoms.

However, success depends on the individual’s specific condition, adherence to the treatment plan, and collaboration between the patient and physio.

When should I see a physio for lower back pain?

Consider seeing a physiotherapist for lower back pain in the case of:

  • Persistent Pain: If your lower back pain lasts more than a few days or keeps returning despite self-management strategies like rest or over-the-counter pain medication.
  • Limited Mobility: If your pain is accompanied by stiffness or limited movement that affects your ability to perform tasks.
  • Radiating Pain: If you experience pain that radiates down your leg(s) or into your buttocks, it may indicate nerve involvement or a more serious underlying issue.
  • Recent Injury: If you have acute low back pain as the result of a recent injury, trauma, or accident, seeking physiotherapy assessment and treatment can help prevent complications and promote healing.

Still unsure whether you should see a physiotherapist? Consult with your GP for personalised advice.

an image of lower back pain

Book A Physio for Back Pain Appointment Today

Whetherstruggling with acute pain from an injury or chronic low back pain, don’t hesitate to consult our friendly team. Book your physio for back pain appointment today and start your journey towards recovery!