It is common for patients who suffer from chronic lower back pain to be referred out to physiotherapy before any more extreme treatments are attempted. Physiotherapy is a more natural treatment that can decrease your pain, increase your range of motion, and help you prevent your back from hurting more in the future.

We asked a local Vancouver physiotherapy office what else we could learn about the use of physiotherapy in the treatment of lower back pain. This is what we learned.


There are many common causes of chronic lower back pain. Keep in mind that some patients are simply more prone to suffering from these conditions than others, so it will not be the same for everyone. The most common causes are:

  • Sciatica: Sciatica is a compression of the spinal nerve, often due to inflammation around it. Pain can travel from the lower back, down the legs, and into the feet with this condition.
  • Arthritis: Either from age or genetics, arthritis in the spinal column and joints can also result in chronic back pain.
  • Herniated Discs: The discs in your spine can also travel out of place or become inflamed, resulting in lower back pain.
  • Degenerative Discs: If the discs are beginning to compress or diminish within the spine, you will also be left with chronic back pain.

Chronic back pain refers to back that lasts more than three months. It is more likely to happen to patients between the ages of 30 and 50, due to a natural decline of fluid between the vertebrae in your spine, causing more irritation and inflammation.

How Physiotherapy Can Help

Physiotherapy can help relieve chronic back pain for any of the common causes. There are several treatment options that a therapist can use to get the most benefit for you. These include:

  • Massage: This is the manual manipulation of the soft tissue. It can help break up knots in the muscles surrounding the spine and allow better blood circulation to the area.
  • Exercises: The physiotherapist might also walk you through some strengthening exercises to help build up the muscles that are not strong enough. This can help give the overworked muscles in your back a break. Then, they might have a better chance of recovery. These exercises should also be practiced at home, in order to have the fastest and most sustainable results.
  • Stretching: Your physiotherapist might also work with you on stretching out your lower back. This can help reduce inflammation, but it will also give you better range of option. This can be incredibly beneficial if you have been having any trouble getting out of bed in the morning due to a stiff back.
  • Ultrasound: In the case of inflammation, the use of ultrasound can help reduce any swelling that you have, giving your body a chance to send more oxygen-rich blood to the sore places within your back.

What Else?

If physiotherapy does not seem to be working well for you, your physiotherapist might refer you back to your physician to use more aggressive techniques. While physiotherapy is the preferred treatment, do not be discouraged if you still need to go further.

In the event that you do have surgery, going through physiotherapy after surgery will also be a good idea, helping to get the back strong and moving with ease once again. While surgery should always be a last resort, sometimes it is the right treatment choice. You might need physiotherapy either way, however.

If you have been suffering from chronic lower back pain, contact your physician today to see if physiotherapy is the best choice for you.