If you’ve ever suffered from low back pain, you know first hand how uncomfortable it can be, and how it can negatively impact your every day life. According to a survey by the American Physical Therapy Association, almost two-thirds of Americans experience low back pain, yet 37 percent don’t seek help from a professional for pain relief.
The good news is that most back pain is not serious. According to the APTA, the majority of low back pain is caused by strain, overuse or injury, and is rarely caused by a more serious condition such as a herniated disc or osteoarthritis.
However, prior injury, prolonged poor sitting or standing postures, improper or excessively heavy lifting, and poor overall conditioning can lead to low back pain. Along with low back pain, symptoms can include numbness or tingling that can radiate into the hip and thigh. “These factors can lead to excessive stress and strain to the supporting structures in the back. Although an acute episode of pain may occur for no apparent reason, the underlying cause is often poor motor or movement control, muscle imbalances, or associated stiffness,” says Craig O’Neil, Vice President of Clinical Excellence at Results Physiotherapy.
Facet syndrome is often described as “my back went out,” according to the experts at Results Physiotherapy. A sharp pain is felt when the injury initially occurs, with symptoms that include local pain and stiffness and a dull ache radiating to the buttock or hip.
Range of motion can be limited, and the pain is usually felt more on one side when leaning, causing a “pinching” of the joint.
If you’ve heard of people who’ve complained of a sciatica – or Lumbar Radiculopathy – that’s when the sciatic leg nerve becomes compressed or irritated. “It’s a burning or shooting pain that’s usually caused by a bulging or herniated disc that’s placing increased pressure on the nerve root,” says O’Neil.
Most people with back pain focus more on the symptoms, rather than the cause of their pain. “What they might not know is that movement often provides the best long-term relief for pain,” says APTA spokesperson Mary Ann Wilmarth, PT, DPT, OCS, Chief of Physical Therapy at Harvard University. “As movement experts, physical therapists can help restore mobility, reduce pain, and improve quality of life,” she adds.
Causes of Back Pain
5 Way Physical Therapy Can Help
- Stretching – Exercise and proper stretching of the muscles in the lower back, abdomen, hips and legs is imperative for those with low back pain. Both stretching and exercise help in maintaining normal range of motion, and provide relief for muscles due to lack of use, or those that spasm because of nerve irritation or inappropriate posture.
- Movement Control Exercises – The goal of movement control exercise is to retrain the spine’s muscles to support and control the spine through various ranges of motion and normal daily activities. Many patients with both acute and persistent low back pain have adopted poor movement patterns that play a large part in their current or ongoing pain.
- Manual Therapy – To assist in relieving non-specific low back pain, the combination of manual therapy and exercise have been found to be most effective. “These techniques include joint and soft tissue mobilization, dry needling, passive stretching, and Myofascial release (gentle pressure to Myofascial connective tissue),” says O’Neil. “Performing these techniques allows the patient to move easier, with less pain and more confidence in their spine, leading to a quicker recovery and return to normal life activities.”
- Education – “Teaching patients to understand and best manage their low back pain, and helping them plan the best path forward reduces their fear of movement and largely assists in the healing process. It can also help relieve pain and promote recovery,” says O’Neil.
About Results Physiotherapy
Results Physiotherapy offers world-class physical therapy, a ground-breaking advance over the old exercise-only treatments. International studies prove our hands-on approach yields faster pain relief and more lasting recovery.
Our licensed therapists are trained in the newest, evidence-based techniques from around the world, combining the best of traditional physical therapy with expert hands-on release of muscle and joint tension. Not only does our therapy bring better results, it also just feels better.
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