‘No Reason Back Pain’, What is it?
So the technical name is ‘chronic non-specific back pain’ but that sounds boring and scary.
This pretty much means we don’t know exactly what has caused your pain.
Instead, we’re going to call it ‘no reason back pain’ because with this condition, there is no one specific known reason as to why you have pain. Now obviously it’s still come from somewhere, but generally speaking it will most likely be a combination of factors which have been occurring over the years that have built up.
Around 1 in 6 Australians had back pain in 2018. When you do the maths, that’s 4 million people just in 2018.
From this we can see lots of people have back pain. It is super common and for long term pain can be really difficult to pin down the root cause.
There’s often a bunch of fancy-named conditions like radiculopathy, spondylolisthesis, disc degeneration etc that you might see on your scan results but often there will be nothing shown at all.
We don’t want to stress about these terms, whether you have been told you have a condition like this or not, that condition may not be the only factor and does not define you or what you can do for your back pain.
I Was Just Diagnosed with a Bulging Disc, is My Back Going to Explode?
Nope, not now and not ever. Up to 63% of the Australian population has been diagnosed as having a ‘bulging disc’. It can be bloody painful, but it’s not going to be forever.
The vast majority of these people they recover to a full and active lifestyle. 25% of these people did not experience back pain at all to begin with!
So even if your scan does show a bulge, it is not the end of the world. Bulging discs do heal and often the more you work it the better!
My Back is Really Sore, I Should Just Rest it… Right?
Bed rest is one of the worst things you can do for ‘no reason back pain’. There is no good evidence that suggests that this helps the problem area or your pain levels.
Instead, you should continue to move in a safe and appropriate manner. An example would be to avoid any positions that cause extra aggravation or flare ups. Don’t just stop all together as the problem won’t ever improve. Slowly build back up and start getting advice from an Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist.
I Hurt My Back Years Ago – The Scans Say Its Fine but I Still Feel Pain?
This is generally caused by ‘Neurological Pain’. Basically, when you have an injury, your body sends out pain signals to your brain to warn you that something is wrong.
The issue is, the system is sometimes not very good at adapting and will often stay in a ‘pain state’ even when there is no longer an injury.
It’s very likely that there is nothing structurally wrong with your back anymore, but your body is still sending those pain signals due to it being over-protective and sensitive in that area.
The best way to work with this is to slowly desensitise that area over time by exposing it to movement and load. This way, your body gets used to that body part being used again and it can begin to reduce the pain signalling.
What Can I do About My Back Pain?
Exercise is key.
You want to use stretching and mobility drills to loosen the tight areas and use Exercise to strengthen, stabilise and desensitise the joints.
Doing specific rehab exercises is important to help you improve but even more important is to simply start moving.
Movements that are going to strengthen the core, glutes, hamstrings and the lower back itself are always good – you just need to adjust the load and intensity to help you build strength without triggering the pain response.
Having an Exercise Physiologist take you through the movements is the best option, but a lot of the exercises are simple and learning them can be achieved in 1-2 sessions. Then you can either keep it up yourself or keep doing sessions to keep you consistent.
We’d also highly recommend downloading our Roll For Recovery Handbook (shameless plug) booklet for mobility based information. The booklet can be found here: https://southwesthealt.wpengine.com/recovery/
Written by Ben Lazzaro,
South West Health Management
CrossFit South West Sydney