Author: Justine Cosman, PT, DPT : Doctor of Physical Therapy, Business Owner, Associate Professor, and Blog Contributor. Explores common client questions and helps find solutions for every day functional health concerns, and then some. Loves empowering others, seeking adventure, and learning every day. Learn more about Justine on Google+.
Causes of Low Back Pain & How Physical Therapy Can Help
Lower back pain is one of the most common reasons people cite for making an appointment with a physical therapist. In fact, nearly 1 in 4 employees report having low back pain and it costs employers $51,400 annually per 100 employees. Most people suffer from lower back pain to varying degrees at some point in their lives. Sometimes, lower back pain is more of an annoyance than anything else, but when lower back pain becomes severe, it can be seriously debilitating and prevent you from living your life. Typically, the sooner you seek treatment for lower back pain, the sooner you can find lasting relief.
Common Causes of Lower Back Pain
There are numerous potential causes for lower back pain. These days, poor posture and alignment of the spine is becoming an increasingly common cause—likely due to the fact that more people work in sedentary desk jobs than ever before. Without the proper lumbar support from an ergonomic desk chair, lower back pain can quickly occur as a result of poor posture and limited movement of the spinal joints throughout the day. Even those who are on their feet most of the day can suffer from lower back pain due to poor spinal and abdominal muscle support and lack of proper coordination of the spinal muscles.
While lower back pain cannot always be prevented, it is possible to reduce your risk of lower back injuries and pain by making sure your back is well supported with proper posture throughout the day. For desk workers, this could mean investing in an ergonomic desk chair. For others, it may mean purchasing a quality pair of athletic shoes that will provide the proper level of foot and back support throughout the day.
Physical Therapy for Back Pain Relief
The good news is that if you're suffering from lower back pain, physical therapy may be able to help. Seeking physical therapy as treatment for your lower back pain is always recommended before you decide to start taking any prescription medications. After all, anti-inflammatory and other medication may relieve your back pain in the short-term, but can also lead to long-term side effects. With physical therapy, you can enjoy a non-invasive and drug-free approach to long-term back pain relief. And physical therapy should always be attempted before taking any drastic measures, such as having back surgery done.
There are two common forms of physical therapy used for the treatment of lower back pain. These are passive and active physical therapy, and they differ greatly in their techniques and methods.
Passive physical therapy relies on techniques performed directly on the patient. This can include anything from applying heat or ice packs to the affected area or even stimulating the area with controlled electricity. Other modalities used here may include ultrasonography, TENS units, and iontophoresis.
Active physical therapy, on the other hand, refers to steps the patient will take (as instructed by a therapist) to treat and reduce lower back pain. Typically, this comes in the form of different exercises and stretches that are designed to reduce lower back pain and minimize future flare-ups as well. These exercises are customized to each individual based on their needs. Some common examples of active physical therapy may include low-impact aerobic conditioning and back strengthening exercises. These can be done in your physical therapist's office or at home, depending on your specific needs.
Overall, physical therapy can be a great option for treating just about any level of lower back pain. Through a combination of active and passive physical therapy, you can work towards reducing your pain and increasing your lower back strength to avoid future problems. Contact our team today to find out more about how we can help you overcome lower back pain.