We see a lot of sore backs here in the clinic. Here are some common questions people ask when they come in with low back pain.
1) “do I need an x-ray or a scan?”
If your back pain wasn’t caused by a traumatic incident, then you typically don’t need any scans. X-rays and scans are never “the whole picture” of any body part. Scans don’t show how well you move, whether a movement hurts, nor if you’re weak or tight. As physios, we’re trained to look at your movement and to test out the joints, as well as ask all the right questions to get to the bottom of the problem. If it turns out you DO need a scan, we will always refer on.
2) “why does my leg hurt too?” Or, “why are you treating my pelvis and butt?”
Our body is more like a team than an individual athlete. All the body parts work with adjacent body parts. The low back and hips share many muscles, and work together to get all the movement we often take for granted. Many of the gluteal muscles will refer pain down the leg, so not all leg pain is caused by a nerve. These are all things we test out when you come to see us. We will sometimes treat the pelvis, hips, AND low back all in the same session, and get you doing exercises for them all as well.
3) “but I have a disc bulge! Do I need surgery?”
Many disc bulges and other disc findings are asymptomatic: which means they aren’t causing any pain. In fact, this systematic review has shown 37% of pain-free 20 years old have disc degeneration. Many details listed in scan findings are simply normal signs of ageing (like grey hairs and wrinkles!). This is another reason you don’t always need a scan: they can create fear and worry over something that isn’t a problem at all! That’s why we ask so many questions and test lots of movement, because we know your scan results are never the whole story.