Lower Back Pain and Treatment
As many as 84% of people will suffer from low back pain at some time in their life. Most experience this as a short but painful episode which resolves by itself, however, for others it can linger and become chronic.
Low Back Pain
As many as 84% of people will suffer from low back pain at some time in their life. Most experience this as a short but painful episode which resolves by itself, however, for others it can linger and become chronic. Many treatments exist for this condition, with exercise and manual therapy (osteopathy, physiotherapy etc) being helpful for many. However, for an increasing number of people, these treatments only offer short lasting effects, and their pain continues for many years.
Research shows that this pain does not only affect the body, but also the brain. Changes to the areas of the brain associated with the low back – relating to both the control of muscles, and also how the brain perceives the area – have been consistently found in people with chronic low back pain. This includes a phenomenon known as “central sensitisation”.
Each area of your body is related to a specific area in the brain, one for your right leg, another for your left leg, one for the low back, and so on. These areas monitor what is going on in the body part, including whether there is any damage to the tissues in the area. If they detect that something is potentially injured, they will produce pain in the area to encourage you to avoid using it and allow it to heal. As soon the injury has healed, this signal should stop, and the pain will disappear. Sometimes, however, this system does not turn off fully, and continues to produce pain messages even when only minimal, harmless amounts of damage has occurred. These changes are difficult for the usual treatments to reverse, however Magnetic Shockwave Therapy (MST) has been shown to have the potential to do this, as the signals from the targeted area have been found to be carried up to the brain, directly into the specific area that controls that part of the body. This is also believed to be the reason for the long lasting effects of MST.
Several studies have found MST to be effective at reducing pain and improving function in patients with chronic low back pain, especially when combined with exercise. A 2017 paper was particularly interesting, as they studied the brains of the patients and found beneficial changes in the areas related to the low back, supporting the hypothesis that MST works on much more than simply the muscles in the area. The patients in the study also reported that the improvements lasted long after the end of their treatment.
Another benefit of MST is the multiple muscle contractions that occurs during treatment. This mimics the feeling of movement, but without any of the pain that can often accompany exercise. This is believed to help the area become more tolerant of movement, as it floods the brain with signals that movement is possible without pain, breaking the usual movement = pain pattern that the brain becomes accustomed to. A 2018 study found significant improvements in the ability of patients with acute low back pain to perform daily activities after a course of MST, suggesting that the patients’ backs were better able to tolerate movement.
The best news is that MST is incredibly safe and painless, with far fewer risks than similar treatments such as traditional shockwave therapy.
To find out more about MST, why not speak to one of our friendly team.
Get in touch