by Dr. Michael Baranov, PT, June 8, 2015
Lower back pain affects millions of people worldwide. If you are near are clinic, the good news is there is treatment for lower back pain in Fresh Meadows. We are right in your backyard.
There are numerous ways in which lower back pain occurs. Some include poor posture when sitting all day, a sports related injury, or from overuse and strain just to name a few.
According to The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, there are several causes of low back pain.
- Sprains and strains account for most acute back pain. Sprains are caused by overstretching or tearing ligaments, and strains are tears in tendon or muscle. Both can occur from twisting or lifting something improperly, lifting something too heavy, or overstretching. Such movements may also trigger spasms in back muscles, which can also be painful.
- Intervertebral disc degeneration is one of the most common mechanical causes of low back pain, and it occurs when the usually rubbery discs lose integrity as a normal process of aging. In a healthy back, intervertebral discs provide height and allow bending, flexion, and torsion of the lower back. As the discs deteriorate, they lose their cushioning ability.
- Herniated or ruptured discs can occur when the intervertebral discs become compressed and bulge outward (herniation) or rupture, causing low back pain.
- Radiculopathy is a condition caused by compression, inflammation and/or injury to a spinal nerve root. Pressure on the nerve root results in pain, numbness, or a tingling sensation that travels or radiates to other areas of the body that are served by that nerve. Radiculopathy may occur when spinal stenosis or a herniated or ruptured disc compresses the nerve root.
- Sciatica is a form of radiculopathy caused by compression of the sciatic nerve, the large nerve that travels through the buttocks and extends down the back of the leg. This compression causes shock-like or burning low back pain combined with pain through the buttocks and down one leg, occasionally reaching the foot. In the most extreme cases, when the nerve is pinched between the disc and the adjacent bone, the symptoms may involve not only pain, but numbness and muscle weakness in the leg because of interrupted nerve signaling. The condition may also be caused by a tumor or cyst that presses on the sciatic nerve or its roots.
- Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which a vertebra of the lower spine slips out of place, pinching the nerves exiting the spinal column.
- A traumatic injury, such as from playing sports, car accidents, or a fall can injure tendons, ligaments or muscle resulting in low back pain. Traumatic injury may also cause the spine to become overly compressed, which in turn can cause an intervertebral disc to rupture or herniate, exerting pressure on any of the nerves rooted to the spinal cord. When spinal nerves become compressed and irritated, back pain and sciatica may result.
- Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves that can cause pain or numbness with walking and over time leads to leg weakness and sensory loss.
- Skeletal irregularities include scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that does not usually cause pain until middle age; lordosis, an abnormally accentuated arch in the lower back; and other congenital anomalies of the spine. Reference: NINDS Low Back Pain Fact Sheet
Nonsurgical Treatment is the Clear First Choice
With the exceptions of broken bones, pain due to cancer, or pain from infection, physical therapy is a clear first choice.
Physical therapy can help alleviate the pain and accelerate the healing process. A physical therapist will diagnose your pain by beginning with your health history, asking specific questions that relate to your symptoms, as well as discovering more about how you use your body in your daily routine.
After your diagnosis, a physical therapist can create a treatment plan specific to your conditions. This plan may include treatments such as:
- Manual therapy
- Therapeutic exercise
- Ice and heat
- Electrical stimulation
These specific back pain solutions can help improve mobility and reduce lower back pain, thus often eliminating the need for surgery or medication. Another benefit of physical therapy is the knowledge you will gain on how to strengthen the muscles that help support your back.
Education is Therapy
You will learn how to maintain proper posture, good body mechanics with lifting and bending, and specific strengthening and stretching exercises to perform on a regular basis.
You can continue to prevent back pain long after your physical therapy treatment plan is complete. You can accomplish this by maintaining a regular physical fitness regimen, always asking for help before lifting heavy objects, and by being mindful of your posture when standing and sitting.
Our physical therapists at MBF Rehabilitation are ready to help. Contact us today to schedule your physical therapy consultation.