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Pain 101: Low Back Pain

WHAT IS LOW BACK PAIN?

Back pain comes in many different forms and can affect people in a variety of ways. Pain in the low back, buttocks, and radiating pain down the leg are all forms of low back pain. Low back pain can limit one’s life in many ways and is an extremely common complaint among adults, regardless of their age. It is one of the most common reasons why people go to the doctor, miss work, or stop participating in activities they enjoy.

Pain 101: Intro To Low Back Pain

Are you experiencing pain or problems in your low back? Click on this video to learn more about low back pain and steps you can take to decrease your pain.

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the main types of low back pain

Joint Irritation

Joint Irritation

Joint irritation is often caused by poor posture, remaining in awkward positions for a prolonged time, or by sudden movements including whiplash. The facet joints connecting the spinal bones may swell and become painful and limit movement.

Disc Injuries

Disc Injuries

Disc injuries (bulge, herniation, degeneration) are a common cause for back pain. the disc acts to absorb shock during the body’s daily activities and keeps the vertebrae (bones in the spine) separated. When damaged, the disc can create pressure on the nerve or spinal cord and cause pain in the low back and legs.

Pinched Nerves/Sciatica

Pinched Nerves/Sciatica

Pinched nerves/sciatica occur when there is excessive pressure on the nerve leading to weakness, numbness or pain radiating down the leg.

Arthritis

Arthritis

Arthritis is the wearing out or degeneration of the joints leading to pain in the joints of the low back. This can be caused by trauma/injury, repetitive movements over time, or normal conditions of aging.

Muscle Spasms & Strains

Muscle Spasms & Strains

Muscle spasms and strains are irritation and injury to the back muscles causing them to involuntarily contract or become excessively tense and cause significant pain. This may occur from an injury, accident, or prolonged poor posture and repetitive movements.

Posture Imbalances

Posture Imbalances

Posture Imbalances can often lead to back pain. This source of back pain is on the rise with the use of computers, increased sitting, and long commutes to work. Imbalances can develop including tightness in certain muscles along with weakness in the core which can eventually lead to back pain.

what can you do about your low back pain?

The solution to your back pain depends on the source of your pain and type of injury you may have sustained. The first step is to consult with your doctor and discuss their recommendations for treating the pain in your back. Your doctor may recommend restrictions on specific activities, medication and/or physical therapy. You can try the following steps now to help alleviate your pain.
1

Rest

It is important when you are experiencing low back pain to limit your activity and rest so that your back can heal.
2

Cold Packs

Apply cold packs to your back to help decrease your pain and inflammation in the joints and muscles.  To prevent damage to skin and surrounding tissue, cold packs should only be applied in 15 minute intervals.
3

Stretch

If you don’t have increased pain with movement, stretching the leg, hip, and back muscles can be the first step in helping to loosen up your back and decrease the pain.
4

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy consists of hands-on treatment to loosen muscles and joints, education on proper posture and movement to decrease pain, instruction on stretching and strengthening exercises to restore mobility and strength, and modalities such as electrical stimulation, cold/heat and ultrasound.

exercises for low back pain

Following are exercises that you can try to help decrease your back pain. Please go to LIFE+for more videos that may help you. Please consult your physician before trying these, and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort.

What is Physical Therapy?

  • Physical therapists are trained, licensed specialists who help individuals develop, maintain, and restore maximum movement and function. Physical therapists specialize in helping restore flexibility and strength to the spine to allow you to enjoy your life, pain free.  Discuss with your doctor if physical therapy is a good option for your back pain.

Treatment Approach

  • Medical research has shown physical therapy to be an effective treatment with positive long term outcomes for patients with chronic low back pain. A successful treatment plan consists of the following: hands-on therapy, an exercise program, posture & body mechanics training, and modalities (cold/heat, ultrasound electrical stimulation).

Hands-On Therapy

Physical therapists are trained to apply specialized, hands-on techniques that help relax tight muscles and restore joint movement in the low back.

Exercise Program

A patient-specific exercise program focusing on mobility and strength will be designed to help you return to your optimal daily activity and quality of life.

Posture & Body Mechanics Training

Physical Therapists are experts at movement analysis. Your physical therapist will help you improve your posture and body mechanics for your daily activities.

Modalities

Cold/heat, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation are used to decrease pain and relax the muscles.