Back pain isn’t usually a serious medical condition – it’s likely that a muscle or ligament is sprained..  

Back pain is sometimes linked with referred pain into one or both legs, which is called sciatica.   Other symptoms can include numbness and tingling in the legs and feet. These are due to an irritation of the nerve roots in the back.  

If you notice actual weakness of the muscles in your leg, or if you lose bladder or bowel control, you should see your doctor urgently.

If your back pain persists over time the lack of normal movement can cause the muscles to weaken and the joints stiffen. It’s important that you keep moving.

If your back pain affects your activity and is persisting, you should seek the assistance of  chartered  physiotherapist.  

A physiotherapist can provide a variety of treatments such as

Exercise is the most important way that you can:

• ease stiffness and pain

• build up muscle strength and stamina

• improve your flexibility and general fitness.

These benefits continue after the pain and symptoms subside so it is advisable to persist with the exercises over time.

Consult Ennis Physiotherapy Clinic if you need an assessment, treatment or advice about your back pain especially if it has not settled within a few days

Postural strain is a common feature in spinal discomfort. ‘Normal’ posture is develops during childhood and younger children generally have good postural habits.  Poor postural habits can occur at any time but generally start during teenage years.  Seated posture is crucially important and even the best ergonomically designed furniture is not a guarantee of good posture.  You can sit badly in an appropriate chair which provides adequate support in the right places.

See the posture information page.

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Non Specific Low Back Pain (LBP)

Backache back pain

Injury to the Intervertebral discs is a well known cause of spinal pain.  Unfortunately there is a poor understanding of how and why the discs are so commonly injured.  A whole range of poor terms have entered normal language which facilitates and perpetuates this poor understanding of these injuries.  

The disc can be injured in a number of ways.  The pain associated with disc injury is rarely from the disc itself but more likely for surrounding tissues.  

The disc is formed by laminated layers of cartilage which form the wall or Annulus of the disc which encloses a gel like liquid called the Nucleus.  The nucleus attracts water very strongly and draws it into the disc when not weightbearing - i.e. when we lie down - increasing the disc pressure.  The wall of the disc is blended to the vertebra bone above + below, and completely enclosed on all sides by the strong spinal ligaments.  Therefore the disc cannot “go in or out”.  

The laminated structure of the disc wall allow it to bend a little. Total movement is produced by a combination of little movement occurring at a number of segments at the same time.  

Over many years there is a gradual loss of fluid from the disc nucleus and it gradually solidifies between 50 and 60 years old. This is normal age related degeneration of the disc.

The discs do not generally experience any pain.  Discs discs are slow to heal and regain strength.  

With movement over years and poor postures the laminations within the wall of the disc may begin to crack + split.  As the disc wall gradually weakens it may begin to bulge.  If all the laminations split open the disc effectively cracks open and the nucleus gel oozes to the outside of the disc.  This is commonly  referred to as a ‘slipped disc’,

Once outside of the disc it attracts + absorbs water strongly causing  to expand rapidly in size.  If there is not much space available this can put pressure on the surrounding tissues, which may include nerves and be pain sensitive.  Pressure on this nerve is likely to provoke pain and other symptoms.

A disc that appear thinner on x-ray is often called a ‘a worn disc’. This disc does not maintain the normal separation between the vertebral bones and the facet joints at that level are likely to wear or degenerate / become arthritic more quickly than normal.

Treatment minimises the impact of the injured discs on other surrounding tissues and of further damage to itself.   

Management of pain and the loss of normal movement patterns in the spine are the key goals and a combination of treatment modalities are utilised to achieve this.  

  1. Rest and avoiding provocative things that aggravate the pain is recommended initially but as quickly as possible movement is resumed.  .
  2. Avoid sitting down if possible.
  3. Maintain good postures whether sitting or standing.  .
  4. Begin home exercises at the earliest possible opportunity
  5. Remain as active as possible - it is by doing things that your back will become strong again
  6. Be proactive in preventing and protecting your discs against further damage and injury.
  7. Consider ergonomic advice when selecting furniture, cars, work postures, planning work and leisure activities.
  8. Strengthen your spine when the disc injury is resolved and gain maximum ‘control’ over core stability and good quality movement patterns.

Exercise programmes need to develop flexibility and strength.

A good attitude to protecting your discs is required - it is not what you do so much as how you do it!  

An injured disc can recover and can become strong again - it must become ‘fit’ for what it needs to be able to do each day.  It must be protected and cared for.

The exercise above is an example of how the spine can be exercised into flexed postures which are relatively safe for the disc.  The best exercise programmes will include a variety of physical activities which include some stretching , some strengthening and some functional exercises.  Core stability, Pilates and Yoga may fall into this category.  

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Intervertebral Disc Injury


Disc Prolapse and nerve pinch


  1. Maintain good posture + alignment of the head and neck (ears over the shoulders).  
  2. Avoid excessively slouched positions, relax the shoulders and stand or sit tall.  
  3. Avoid Prolonged Sitting
  4. Sit with good spinal support
  5. Set up computer screens correctly
  6. Tilt / lift reading material up towards you in front
  7. Use a hands free set up if on the phone a lot
  8. Do not hold phone between ear and shoulder
  9. Do not slouch while driving
  10. Sleeping
  1. Avoid prolonged static postures - keep moving   
  2. Avoid excessive looking or reaching upwards
  3. Avoid carrying a bag on one shoulder.  Spread the pressure evenly over both shoulders

Consult Ennis Physiotherapy Clinic if you need an assessment, treatment or advice about your neck pain

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Most people suffer some neck pain during their life.  Normal ‘age related’ wear and tear and poor posture is often observed.  It is usually variable but not very severe.  If you have

  1. Severe pain in the neck
  2. Pain in the shoulder and/or shoulder blade area or
  3. Pain down into the arm(s)
  4. Head pain or headache

then you need assessment and treatment by a chartered physiotherapist.  

‘Whiplash’ injuries occur where a sudden movement of the head and neck sprain the soft tissues of the neck and shoulders.  This can result in pain, stiffness and reduced movement / activity in the head, neck, shoulders and arms.  Other symptoms can also occur.  The duration of neck pain  is very variable but 4-6 weeks, or more, is not unusual.  

Headache can be caused by sprain / strains of the upper neck area.  This type of headache has been shown to respond well to manual therapy and exercise treatment provided by Chartered Physiotherapists.

Remaining as active as possible and physiotherapy treatment can accelerate your recovery.

Contact the clinic if you would like have an assessment and/or treatment of your neck, head, shoulder or arm pain.

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Neck and shoulder pain

Non Specific Neck Pain

Neck Care Advice


065 6840757

Mon - Fri    9.30am - 8.30pm

3A Barrack Close, Barrack St., Ennis, Co. Clare  V95 X437