Lower back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide and is one of the most common conditions treated. About 80% of adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Specifically, 50% of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year. While general back pain is common, the symptoms and severity of lower back pain can vary greatly. Your back is a complex network of spinal muscles, nerves, bones, discs, and tendons. Physical therapy can create custom treatment plans for each patient’s unique back condition. Sometimes, your back pain may go away after a couple of days. If your back pain continues for longer than 4 to 6 weeks or is a recurring issue, you may need to see a physical therapist. The goal is to find relief and prevent future occurrences of any type of back pain.
Symptoms & Sources of Pain
Nearly two-thirds of Americans experience lower back pain, but 37 percent do not seek professional help for pain relief. Physical therapists determine the source of back pain and treat it accordingly. This can be accomplished with a thorough musculoskeletal exam and usually without costly medical imaging.
Possible Lower Back Symptoms:
• Tightness in area in between ribs and legs
• Shooting or stabbing pain
• Limited range of motion and flexibility
Common Sources of Pain:
• Heavy lifting or sudden awkward movement that strains back muscles and spinal ligaments
• Sciatic nerve and piriformis muscle irritation or pinching usually by a herniated disk. Read more about sciatica specific treatment.
• Spinal stenosis or narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back
• Degenerative disc disease
• Abnormal spinal curvature
Physical Therapy For Recovery & Pain Relief
In any case, whether you’re suffering from acute or chronic lower back pain, incorporating physical therapy into your treatment regimen is essential. An ideal program will employ guided manual therapy and varied exercises to reduce pain and stiffness in the lower back. At Therapydia, we don’t just make our patients do exercises. We utilize hands-on, manual therapy techniques on your back muscles and joints to decrease pain caused by muscle spasm, tension, and joint dysfunctions.
• Manual therapeutic techniques: Increase mobility and general tissue healing with hands-on techniques for inflammation around the spine. Reduces pain caused by muscle spasms and muscle tension.
• Lumbar (i.e. lower back) mobilizations: Aim is to stretch smaller muscles, ligaments, and tissues at specific joints in the lower back. Improves mobility in stiff and restricted areas of the spine by passively moving the injured joints.
• Customized lower back exercises: Focusing on promoting core stabilization and postural education is also key in reducing pain and improving lower back range of motion.
• Other treatments: Dry needling is also a treatment option in many states. Dry needling involves inserting a thin solid needle into trigger points—tender knots in muscles that cause pain. The goal is to relax trigger points and reduce inflammation within the muscle while decreasing your overall pain.