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Physiotherapy Treatments for Lower Back Pain

4 Commonly Prescribed Physiotherapy Treatments for Lower Back Pain

Low back pain is common in people of all ages and is not just limited to those who spend long hours sitting at a desk. Activities like lifting heavy objects, carrying items for long periods, extensive reaching or stretching, playing sports, jogging, and many other activities can lead to lower back discomfort. 

A report from Bone and Joint Canada supports this statement. According to the report, back pain is widespread, impacting as many as 80% of adults at some point in their lives. This pain can be severe enough to substantially reduce a person’s ability to carry out everyday tasks and work responsibilities.

Thankfully, several effective methods and strategies exist to alleviate lower back pain and help prevent its return. This blog will discuss some commonly prescribed physiotherapy treatments for lower back pain and their benefits. We’ll briefly look at the causes of lower back pain to better understand why physiotherapy should be considered in the first place.

Causes of Lower Back Pain

Mechanical Lower Back Pain

The majority of low back pain falls into two categories: “non-specific” where the exact cause is unclear, or “mechanical” where the pain stems from joints, bones, or soft tissues around the spine. Such pain is frequently a result of injuries from activities like heavy lifting or repetitive tasks such as shoveling.

Herniated Disc

A herniated disc can be caused by a single severe strain or injury. As people age, the disc material naturally starts to break down, and the ligaments holding it weaken. Even a minor strain or twist can lead to a disc rupture with this deterioration. While herniated discs can happen anywhere along the spine, they are more commonly found in the lower back (lumbar spine) and sometimes in the neck (cervical spine).


Also named spondylosis (when referring to the spine), this tends to occur as people age and gradually worsens with time. It happens when the cartilage in joints wears down and can affect almost any joint. It’s often seen in the hips, knees, hands, lower back, and neck. It leads to varying degrees of pain, swelling, joint instability, and narrowing of the space within the spine. 

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis 

It is a condition where the spinal canal (which contains the spinal cord) or the intervertebral foramen (which contains nerve roots) in the lower back becomes narrower, squeezing the nerves that go from the lower back into the legs. Although it can occur in younger people due to abnormal development, it usually is a result of age related changes in those 60 years or older.

What Is the Goal of Physiotherapy for Lower Back Pain?

Physical therapy is often one of the first recommended treatments for various types of lower back pain. It involves specific exercises designed to strengthen the lower back and improve the condition of the spine and its connecting tissues and joints.

The main objectives of physiotherapy for lower back pain are:

  • To reduce pain in the lower back and legs.
  • To enhance functioning of the lower back, enabling the patient to carry out daily activities more independently.
  • To increase the spine’s flexibility and range of motion.
  • To develop a routine to help prevent future back issues.

Adding physical therapy exercises to target the above-mentioned objectives enhances flexibility and strength in the body segments, joints, and muscles that work together for movement.

Physiotherapy for Lower Back Pain Relief

There are two common physiotherapy approaches to treating low back pain: one where the patient actively participates (through physical activity) and the other where the patient receives treatment without engaging in physical activity. The active approach includes stretching the back, strengthening the muscles, and low-impact aerobic exercises. The more passive approach involves using ultrasound, applying heat or cold packs, and using devices like a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS), among other methods. When both approaches are used in conjunction with one another, outcomes may be optimized. 

  1. Active Physical Therapy

Active physical therapy often targets muscle imbalances and postural abnormalities which are common causes of low back pain. This therapy focuses on stretching and strengthening exercises to ease pain and prevent further issues. Your physiotherapist will suggest particular stretches and exercises tailored to your needs for proper recovery. Your therapy program may include general body stretches, exercises to stabilize the lower back, and exercises performed in water.

  1. Heat & Ice Therapy

Ice therapy can help decrease inflammation in the lower back area, and heat can relax stiff muscles. Together, heat and ice therapy are effective in managing pain. This combination helps improve circulation and reduce muscle spasms, providing a soothing effect. Additionally, alternating between heat and ice can offer a gentle yet effective way to treat discomfort and aid recovery.

  1. Ultrasound Therapy

Ultrasound employs sound waves at particular frequencies to create a warming effect beneath the skin, aiding in muscle relaxation and enhancing the healing of tissues. It’s frequently used for treating low back pain. This method can improve blood flow to the affected area, accelerating recovery. Additionally, the gentle heat generated by ultrasound can help reduce stiffness and improve flexibility in the back muscles, contributing to overall pain relief and physical function improvement.

  1. TENS Therapy

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation applies a mild electrical current to help decrease lower back pain and enhance mobility. This safe electrotherapy method interrupts the pain signals sent to the brain. Consequently, TENS has the potential to offer substantial and lasting relief. Additionally, it can help relax muscle tension and promote better circulation in the affected area. As a result, TENS not only aids in pain management but also supports the overall healing process in the lower back region.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, pain in the lower back can be debilitating, especially if it’s persistent. There are many ways to relieve lower pain through physiotherapy, but it’s best to take guidance from a certified professional. While one physiotherapy treatment might be effective in reducing the pain in one person, it might not be as effective in another.

At Bridgwater Physiotherapy, we provide tailored treatment options for patients with lower back pain. We treat everything from herniated and degenerative discs to mechanical low back pain and osteoarthritis, and more! Our evidence-based techniques will enhance your recovery at a faster pace. Contact us today, and let our physiotherapists help with your journey to eliminate your low back pain.