Exposure Therapy for Low Back Pain || Updates from IASP World Congress on Pain || Brisbane Anytime Physio
Alan Wan and Joy Kim are in Boston, Massachusetts this week for the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) 17th World Congress on Pain. Today, they learnt new, evidence-based techniques that combine physiotherapy and psychology to better manage chronic low back pain.
Chronic low back pain can be effectively treated with exposure therapy. Exposure therapy refers to a combination of physiotherapy and psychology that aims to slowly build up a person’s tolerance to a certain stimulus. Exposure therapy has long been used to treat phobias (such as arachnophobia, the irrational fear of spiders), but recently has been shown to be effective in treating chronic low back pain. In this article, we’ll explore how our physiotherapists at Brisbane Anytime Physio use exposure therapy to treat low back pain.
Chronic Low Back Pain is Linked to Fear of Movement
People who experience chronic low back pain are often fearful of certain movements. In their experience, activities such as bending over or lifting heavy objects cause them pain. To avoid this pain, they have learnt to avoid these movements.
Fear Avoidance Causes Disability and Decreased Physical Conditioning
Use it or lose it. If you constantly avoid activity, then your body forgets how to function normally. Muscles become weaker when they are not used and weak muscles cannot provide support to the underlying joints. This deconditioning leads to increased disability and pain and reinforces fear of movement associated with chronic low back pain. This leads to a vicious cycle.
How do we Break the Cycle of Low Back Pain?
Exposure therapy is an effective way of gradually building up tolerance to exercise and physical activity. At Anytime Physio, we start by asking our patients what they would like to achieve through treatment. We set realistic goals that can be measured over time. For low back pain, our exercise progressions might look something like this:
Is it Safe to Exercise With Chronic Low Back Pain?
Yes! In almost 95% of cases of low back pain, gentle exercises are completely safe and have actually been shown to improve symptoms. At Anytime Physio, we screen all of our patients to ensure their safety before starting exposure therapy. If imaging or further investigations are required, Anytime Physio works with an extensive network of doctors, orthopaedic specialists and radiology clinics, so you can rest assured that you are safe in our hands.
Need Help Getting On Top Of Chronic Low Back Pain?
Secure your appointment with one of our physiotherapists for expert treatment today.
Stiff and sore from hours parked in front of your desk at work? You’re not alone. Figures suggest that up to 56% of office workers experience low back and upper back pain at any one time. And this doesn’t take into consideration those who might also be suffering with neck pain, shoulder pain and wrist pain.
Here are 5 quick tips to reduce pain in the office:
Keep Musculoskeletal Injuries and Disorders from Your Workplace with These Preventative Measures
Studies show that first responders are three times on average more likely to suffer mental illness or work-related injuries than other jobs.
The risk for some ambulance workers is 5 to 7 times higher than that of the general public. The police, on the other hand, have much higher rates of mental illness because of the hostile aggressors they face almost every day in the life of their working career.
Imagine how much job-related damage this will cause for someone old enough to be in aged care but who is still actively working.
Regardless of your profession, however, injuries could happen. But musculoskeletal injuries are more prevalent in certain types of jobs than others.
In its publication entitled Preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Workplace, the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that certain physical loading may be detrimental to your health. These include kneeling for long durations, manipulation of heavy loads, whole body vibration, sitting for long durations, and static work and awkward posture.
The book also defines musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) as health problems of the locomotor apparatus, such as the skeleton, muscles, cartilage, ligaments, and nerves. The definition also applies to all forms of ill-health that range from transitory to disabling injuries that are irreversible.
The most vulnerable parts of the body are the upper extremities (i.e. the shoulder, arm and hand) and the main articulations (i.e. the knees and elbows). Because you need these body parts to work and function effectively, it is important to prevent work-related musculoskeletal injuries.
Whether you are young or old, you must find ways to prevent such injuries.
Most Common Musculoskeletal Injuries
The Compendium of WHS and Workers’ Compensation Statistics from the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC) showed that body stressing is the top reason for musculoskeletal injuries but not the most expensive. That title goes to mental stress.
Based on claims made by premium payers, the following data were collected:
For the year 2011/12 initial claim of determination
From the average estimated total cost per claim of $68,000, body stressing increased to $89,000.
Ways to Prevent Work-Related Musculoskeletal Injuries
Conduct role-specific pre-employment testing
If you're hiring a boilermaker, for example, you need to make sure that an applicant meets the physical demands required to perform the job. Make sure they can lift heavy objects and have the skills required to mitigate injury risks.
Take note of good practice examples or solutions
The same WHO publication outlined the various factors that contribute to musculoskeletal disorders and the best practices to avoid them.
Integrate ‘job hardening’ techniques
If repetitive work for an extended period is part of the job, provide a set of exercises that will strengthen and stretch the most affected areas. If the forearm, wrist, and lower back are at high risk, perform exercises that will strengthen and stretch them.
Consult physiotherapists for exercise and preventative plans that you can provide employees. Professionals highly trained in specialised musculoskeletal physiotherapy offer services that can help reduce injuries in the workplace.
Make sure to combine these techniques with regular stretching, rest breaks, and task rotation.
Carry out worker training
One of the reasons injuries happen is the lack of training.
This is especially true for industries where some employers will hire just about anyone to fill a vacancy. Without proper worker training, someone’s hand is bound to get caught between the wheels of a machine or mishandle a heavy object and get rolled over.
Employees should know what they need to do, the proper way to do it, and the safest way to get their job done.
In the event that injuries already happened, you can also refer to physiotherapists to address and treat the problem. Choose from a number of specialised treatments that target neck pain, low back pain, muscle strains, posture-related pain, and shoulder injuries.
Anytime Physio is a musculoskeletal and sports physiotherapy clinic based in Newstead, New Farm and Clayfield in Brisbane.