Back pain is a common condition treated by manual therapists, be it physiotherapists, chiropractors, myotherapists and Osteopaths.
The osteopathic approach to treating this condition is often referred to as holistic and maybe very successful in treating back pain.
The key to this success lies in our approach and principles that guide our treatment style.
One of the key principles of osteopathy is that the body is a unit and it structure and function are inter-related.
This becomes evident if you’ve ever experienced low back pain. The simplest of movements can lead to crippling pain, even movements you previously thought didn’t involve your back.
During the course of a treatment osteopaths aim to find the cause of your pain. In the case of low back pain it could be an issue with a structure locally or further away that is the cause of your pain.
For example a problem with the arch of your foot may lead to that foot rolling toward the midline or pronating. The body tries to compensate for this by rotating the lower leg in the opposite direction, there by rotating the upper leg back towards the mid line. This can create a functional leg length change. Making it appear shorter or longer.
The Pelvis is the next area in the chain of compensations to become involved, this may tilt forwards or backwards in an attempt to level out the change in leg length. This creates strain and load onto the sacroiliac joint and leads us to the next compensation. The sacrum may then tilt and rotate to neutralise the changes at the hips.
Which brings us to the lumbar spine, being the next link in the chain, it may again tilt, rotate and side-bend to level out a problem that is all the way back down at your feet!
All these compensations are brought about by the muscle contractions across the joints in that particular area. They eventually become tired and fatigued and other muscle will have to compensate, but eventually something has to give and that may be your back once the muscle can’t take it any more they may go into spasm. Now picking those socks up off the floor just became a job for Ethan Hunt (mission Impossible) and you’re on the phone trying to get an appointment to see your osteopath and maybe looking for a cleaner…
As osteopaths we think outside the square in relation to what the cause of your back pain is, and aim to find the source of it. After all, everything is connected!
So the next time your osteopaths is testing or treating an area that you think is unrelated to your source of pain, they are probably on the hunt for reason of your pain.