Lower Back Pain: What Can Be Done About It?  

At our Ottawa physiotherapy and chiropractic clinics, lower back pain is a common complaint. It’s a condition that will affect about four out of five Canadians over their lifetime. Most of the time, it gets better in a month or so with home treatment only. However, sometimes, it can be a chronic condition, and gets in the way of your everyday life.

Lower back pain can become debilitating, and interfere with sitting, standing, and normal activities of everyday life. Here’s a look at some of the causes and treatments available.

Finding the cause

Treatments depend on a number of factors, most importantly, the root cause. Sometimes, it can be as straightforward as eliminating a bad habit.

Various diagnostic tests may be ordered, such as an MRI to locate herniated discs or fractured bones, blood tests for infections, and nerve testing (EMG or electromyography) to view the functionality of nerves and muscles.

There are many different possible causes; here are some of the most common:

  • Wear and tear – age, time, and certain occupations will simply wear down the complex structure that makes up the lower back, where the spine and hips come together.
  • Injury – that can include a sudden movement, blow, car accident or other trauma that can damage soft tissues.
  • The spine – compression, bulging discs, and other issues can cause pain.
  • Myofascial pain syndrome – a term for conditions where there is no recognizable cause for pain or muscle weakness.


Problems with posture and an imbalanced gait can cause pain in the lower back as well as other regions of the body. Your Ottawa physiotherapist will assess your posture and gait as part of your diagnosis, and an ergonomic analysis of your work area if applicable, and will determine if they are contributing to your issues.

Sometimes, relieving chronic lower back pain will be a matter of:

  • Improving posture and learning to replace bad habits with good;
  • Appliances such as shoe inserts or customized footwear to correct physical imbalances;
  • Rearranging a work station to provide for a natural alignment of back, hips, and limbs.

If your lower back pain is mild...

If lower back pain is mild, and doesn’t interfere too much with sleeping, sitting or other daily activities, you can take some effective measures at home. That includes:

  • Heat: a hot shower, heating pad or wrap, or even a damp cloth heated briefly in your microwave can provide pain relief;
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that you can get without a prescription can help, including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, etc.) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).

When it’s not

If the pain is more than those simple measures can help, you should contact your Ottawa physiotherapist or other sports medicine for help.

Your Ottawa physiotherapist or other sports medicine specialist can offer you a range of treatment options if the first line of defence is ineffective, or where the causes are more complex.

  • Cortisone: an injection at the affected area can help in cases where pain radiates down your leg. It may reduce inflammation, and can help decrease or even eliminate pain, but the effects only last a month or two in a typical case.
  • Medical Acupuncture: delivered by a trained professional, it has been effective in relieving chronic pain in some patients – ask your Ottawa sports medicine specialist if it might be right for you.
  • Massage Therapy: can loosen tight muscles, and increase blood flow to the region, which can reduce pain and help to promote healing.
  • Physical Therapy: a targeted exercise program can help you recover from injury as well as relieve chronic pain due to postural and imbalance issues.
  • Viscosupplementation: a treatment using injections of hyaluronic acid (HA) can be effective in cases involving osteoarthritis of the hips that can cause lower back pain.

Surgery is required in some cases, and usually involves relieving compression between spinal discs.

If you are experiencing lower back pain that is severe, or persists  beyond a week or so, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Ottawa physiotherapy, chiropractic and sports medicine clinics for a consultation today.











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