Thrive Physio

Back Pain

What is lower back pain? 

An incidence of lower back pain can occur at least once in the lifetime of 80-90% of the population.  Lower back pain commonly occurs due to over stretching of ligaments and/or muscles in your back. Ligaments and bone help protect and support your spine, however with repetitive loading or overstretching strains and sprains tend to occur resulting in your symptoms. There are two types of back pain that can occur: Acute and Chronic. 

Acute lower back pain: 

This is when your back pain lasts less than 3 months. This pain is sometimes non specific, causes severe limitations which gradually improves but tends to be episodically recurring in nature if not managed well. It does not lead to prolonged loss of function. 

Chronic lower back pain: 

This is when your back pain lasts longer than 3 months. It can cause severe disabilities in everyday life and can have psychosocial affects.

Things to look out for, The Red Flags: 

If you have the following symptoms, it is necessary for you to inform your physiotherapist at the first and/or ongoing appointments. Remember that these are rare, we will use our subjective interviewing skills to determine if it an emergency. 

  • Loss of sensation or incontinence due to pain in the sacral region. 

  • Sever or worsening pain especially at night or when lying down  

  • Trauma such as accidents 

  • Unexplained weight loss 

  • Fever 

  • History of cancer 

  • Patients over the age of 50 

If any of the symptoms concern you, let our team know and we will get you to the right place at the right time. 

Do I need a scan or x-ray? 

In majority of the cases, you do not require a scan or xray. Muscles are very powerful in nature, so imagine how much pain a muscle will be in when it has undergone some form of stress. Most lower back pains are initially quite severe but with the right treatment and advice, the pain diminishes gradually. Everyone as they age tends to have some degenerative change in their spine. A scan can show a disc protusion or an arthritic even in someone who is asymptomatic. Rest assured, our physiotherapists will use the right clinical reasoning and provide you with the right information about your condition. 

What is the cause? 

The cause of lower back pain can be due to various reasons. It can be due to the nature of your employment. For example if you are in a job where you are repetitively lifting or sitting slouched over a desk, your back will definitely have an opinion about that. If you are a gym fanatic who lifts heavier weights than what their back can handle or if you do not get time for any exercise at all, then your back will also have an opinion about you too.  However in bio-mechanical terms these are some of the many causes of lower back pain: 

  • previous history of lower back pain or surgery 

  • postural instability - a lower back that is too arched or not arched enough can also cause discomfort. 

  • Stress and eating habits. 

  • faulty movement pattern- over activation of your back muscles during lifting activities when it should be the muscles in your thighs, glutes and core doing the job. 

  • inflexibility - one key cause of lower back pain is not having flexible hamstrings. 

  • inactivity-  not exercising enough can cause lower back and increase recurrence of lower back pain 

  • over-exercising - pushing through the pain is good but to a limit. You need to understand what is good pain and what is bad as you can do more damage than good if you do not pay attention 

  • hypomobility or hypermobility of your spine - the lumbar spine a designed to have some level of mobility, too much or too little can also cause pain. 

Other causes of backpain: 

  • Sciatica 

  • Herniated disc 

  • Sacroiliac joint sprain 

  • Hip joint impingement 

  • Chronic Fractures - Spondylolisthesis 


Treatment: Self Management Technique 

The important message here for to understand that treatment and recovery will take time. Your lower back has been doing the job that it was not suppose to for a very long time so for it to get better, you need to give it the time it needs. Return to work or sport will be determined by your current pain and function. Communication with you and your physiotherapist is vital during this healing time frame. Gym or home-based progressive exercises are also vital. Healing time frame can range from 6 to 8 weeks. Here is some advice of the acute phase of your treatment: ​

  • Stretching your hamstrings in either a seated, standing or lying position 

  • Knee rolling: Lie on your back with your knees bend, let your knees gently fall to one side and to the other  

  • Avoid lifting anything heavy or using proper lifting techniques when even picking up a pen from the floor 

  • Get enough rest- continuing work or play with severe pain is not advised, get a medical certificate from your general practitioner if you need time off. 

For more information: 

You can get more information from the following websites: ​


- Health Navigator NZ 

Physical Therapist

Do not assume the worst.
This information is here for your knowledge. 

Book in with one of our team members for a proper assessment.

We will help you with your journey to recovery.