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Do I need a scan for my lower back?

If you have ever experienced back pain in the past, either an acute episode or a long term issue, the question, ‘do I need a scan?‘ has probably crossed your mind.

The answer: PROBABLY NOT.

Contrary to popular belief, scans of the lower back, such as X-ray, CT or MRI, have been shown to have little to no correlation to an acute lower back pain.

A study by Matsumoto (1) in 2013 found 78% of asymptomatic volunteers with an average age of 48 had some sort of disc derangement on imaging. This study suggests that disc bulges, protrusions and narrowing of the disc space can be a normal, age-related finding.

The current recommendations from CHOOSING WISELY (2) for scans of the lower back are to trial a period of treatment, combining hands on therapy and exercise over the course of a month or so to assess the progress of your back pain.

If you are experiencing no change, progressive neurological change or a worsening of your symptoms, then your medical professional can guide you to what scan is most appropriate.

The majority of people who get a scan don’t need one in the acute setting and of those people, a large number of them will have a finding that is NOT relevant to their pain.

When should you wait to get a scan?

If you have woken up with a sore back
If you have developed a pain that comes on with movement and eases with rest
If you have no history of trauma
If you have mild numbness or tingles down the leg (with no other neurological sign)
When do you ACTUALLY need a scan? (2)
In an acute setting:

If you are experiencing signs of spinal cord compression
If you have numbness and issues related to toileting
Progressive neurological deficit at multiple levels of the body
Weakness and unco-ordination of the arms and legs
A history of cancer and an acute onset of back pain (especially if it is not related to movement)
A history of significant trauma to the back, especially after a course of corticosteroids

If you are having back pain, contact Physiotherapy Professionals Parramatta today on 02 8006 9111 or via email on

Increase Your Bone Strength

Increase Your Bone Strength – Physiotherapy Parramatta

In order to learn how to increase bone strength, we must first understand what our bones are. Bones are living tissues, and the body is constantly replacing old bone with new bone. As we get older, our bodies don’t replace new bone quick enough, which makes our bones weaker.

There are two important things that we should remember when it comes to increasing our bone strength.

1. Weight-bearing exercise

Weight-bearing exercise simply means any kind of exercise that requires us to be on our feet. This means that sitting or lying down for long periods of time is not good for our bones.

The less weight bearing exercise we do, the weaker our bones get.

This is similar to what happens to astronauts when they come back from space. The strength of their bones is significantly lower and they can end up with osteoporosis, which basically means brittle bones.

2. Good nutrition

When it comes to good nutrition there are two vital minerals we need to help build strong bones. They are Calcium and Vitamin D. One cannot go without the other.

Basically without Vitamin D, our body will not absorb calcium well. And we need calcium to build strong bones.

As a simple starting point, you can get calcium from milk and vitamin D from the sun, but it is always good to get your calcium and vitamin D levels checked by your local doctor.

How to reduce stress

How to reduce stress

What is stress?
Stress is the bodies response to environmental conditions. Work pressure, surgery, peak hour traffic, finances and relationships can all cause stress in the body. Stress can be described as feeling overwhelmed or worried. The body responds to stress by producing hormones adrenalin and cortisol. Adrenalin increases; heart rate, force of muscle contraction and respiration whereas cortisol inhibits the body’s ability to digest food and lowers the immune system.

The effects of stress on the body

Impairs digestion and contributes to inflammation
Depletes beneficial bacteria in the large intestine
Weakens the immune system
Low mood/depression
Five ways to reduce stress

Improve digestion and reduce inflammation by feeding your brain healthy fats; and your microbiome fibre and fermented foods. A handful of nuts mixed through yoghurt will work a treat.

Exercise and gentle stretching is shown to have multiple positive effects on the body, including the reduction of stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. The Department of Health recommends 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous activity each week. This could include walking to work from the train station, weight-based training or kicking the football.

3.Getting outdoors and reconnecting with nature
Studies have found that natural environments improve health and well-being by reducing feelings of stress. People with more access to the outdoors, for example parks, gardens or the ocean, experienced less stress compared to individuals without access or limited access. Stress reducing outdoor activities include hiking, gardening, walking along the beach and sports such as cricket.

Meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction. As little as 10 minutes is shown to help control stress levels, decrease anxiety and improve cardiovascular health. Headspace makes meditation easy by offering free guided mediations online.

Slow deep regular breathing is a sign of relaxation. If you feel stressed, take a few minutes to try the following breathing technique:

Breathe in slowly and deeply, pushing your stomach out filling your diaphragm with air
Hold your breath briefly
Exhale slowly thinking “relax”
Repeat the entire sequence five to 10 times

Can you spare 10 minutes? What you can do RIGHT NOW to reduce your stress level
Go for a walk, have a snack, turn on your Headspace app or take some deep breaths. Got a little longer? Do them all and reap the calming and mood boosting benefits all day long!

Injured at work?

Injured at work

Getting injured at work is often unexpected and for most people, the first thing you feel is panic. Don’t.
We are here to help you!
Read on to find out what steps you should take after having a work injury and how Physiotherapy Professionals Parramatta can help you becoming pain free.

Report the incident
Regardless of how minor the injury is, it needs to be reported to be reported to your manager.
In the report, be as thorough as you can, describing the events that led up to your injury as well as what happened immediately after.
This will give your employer and the medical and health practitioners that will be looking after you a better understanding of your nature of injury.

Book an appointment with your doctor
Once your manager or employer has been notified of the injury, you need see you GP.
Let your doctor know that you will be making a workers’ compensation claim, as there are certain forms that need to filled out by the doctor.
Your doctor will perform an assessment and report on the extent of your injuries and determine the likelihood of returning to your previous hours and capacity at work.

Before making your first appointment, you will need a claim number from Work Cover. Let us know that your claim number at the time of making an appointment. It is important for us to work with your doctor and case manager (from the insurance company) to ensure we are all on the same page to get you back to work. Also, don’t forget to bring scan results or doctor referral letters for us to read and understand your injury.

Let’s work together to achieve your goals
We will be working alongside you to help you get back to your previous work capacity and level of physical activity! We will develop a tailored and comprehensive treatment plan, just for you, so you can keep on track to achieving your health goals and returning to work.

Insurance cases can sometimes by a little tricky, but we are here to help you. For further information on how our team can help you after a workplace incident, contact Physiotherapy Professionals Parramatta today on 02 8006 9111 or via email on We are located 5 minutes walk from Parramatta station.