Back pain is one of the world’s leading disabilities and is not choosey with whom it affects. According to Damien Hoy, a lead research fellow at the University in Queensland’s School of Population Health in Australia, “Low back pain is something that almost all people experience at some point in their lives. It is something common across sexes, age groups, countries, socioeconomic groups, education levels and occupation”. The interesting thing about back pain is that it stems from several different causes, and not just primarily from an isolated incident. Some of the leading causes of back issues include the following:
- Muscle or ligament strain. Muscle strain occurs when fibers in a muscle begin to tear from being overstretched or overused (commonly called a pulled muscle). Lumbar sprain occurs when ligaments are overstretched or torn. Ligaments are tough, fibrous tissues that connect bones together. (Spine Health)
- Lumbar and Herniated Discs. A herniated disc occurs when the gel-like center of your disc ruptures out through a tear in the tough disc wall. The gel material is irritating to your spinal nerves, causing something like a chemical irritation. The pain is a result of spinal nerve inflammation and swelling caused by the pressure of the herniated disc. (Mayfield Clinic)
- Tight Hamstrings. The hamstrings may become tight for many reasons, some of which include injury and a lack of stretching post exercise. The hamstrings can also be tight due to previous injuries such as a strain or pull, there can be a buildup of scar tissue and/or adhesions.
- Arthritis. While any part of the back can be affected, the lower back is the most common site of arthritis back pain, most likely because it bears more of the body’s weight. (Arthritis Foundation)
- Skeletal irregularities. A condition in which your spine curves to the side (scoliosis) also can lead to back pain, but generally not until middle age. (Mayo Clinic)
- Osteoporosis. About two-thirds of spinal compression fractures are never diagnosed because many people think the back pain is just a part of aging and arthritis. (WebMD)
A Physical Therapist’s Guide to Back Pain Relief
One of the great causes for an increase in back pain and prolonged injury is waiting too long to treat it. The sooner you seek medical attention, the sooner and stronger you will heal. Check out our pain measurement chart here on how to measure your pain and the proper action you should take.
If you are suffering from lower back pain, a great target stretch would be the hamstrings. When you upper legs are tight, they affect the lower part of your back. Doing a hamstring stretch once or twice a day can help alleviate pain. There are several stretches that can be performed easily and anywhere.
LOW IMPACT EXERCISE
There is an exercise for anyone with back pain, and the sooner you start the sooner you will start to experience relief. Some are as follows:
- Water exercises
- Low Impact Aerobics
NOTE: if you haven’t exercised much in the past, start slowly and work your way up gradually. We can help you formulate the best exercises.
Back pain can be highly influenced by your posture. It’s important to be mindful that when you are standing to maintain neutral pelvic positioning. When sitting, choose a seat that supports the lower back, change your position every 30 minutes, and keep your knees and hips level.
MEET WITH YOUR PHYSICAL THERAPIST
See your physical therapist for a proper diagnosis and guidance on how to help you improve or restore mobility and reduce back pain, without having to turn to surgery or pain medication. There is also a misconception that if you are experiencing pain that you should only rest, and you should, but it is also important to stay active.
Not all low back pain is the same as the next person, therefore, treatment should be tailored specifically to your needs, and a physical therapist can help design the best individualized personal treatment plan. Treatments may include:
- Improvement of mobility of joints and soft tissues through manual therapy
- Exercises to increase flexibility and strength
- Detailed information on how to take care of your back
- A program for safe and effective plan to improve your overall health
- How and when to use ice or heat treatments or electrical stimulation
If you’re experiencing back pain, don’t want to connect with us today to get you back to your normal self!
-Apex Physical Team