Physical therapists treat people in various stages of life for pain that has affected their ability to do the things they love. Many of these patients complain of pain throughout various parts of the body with low back pain the most common complaint.
Physical therapists are experts in restoring and improving motion in people’s lives and play an important role not only in treating persistent or recurrent low back pain, but also in prevention and risk reduction. Physical therapists are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility—in many cases without expensive surgery or the side effects of medications.
If you have experienced low back pain, you are not alone. Approximately one-quarter of Americans have reported at some time experiencing low back pain within the past three months. Low back pain often occurs due to overuse, strain or injury. This can include too much bending, twisting, lifting, and even too much sitting.
Some ways to keep from experiencing low back pain include keeping your back, stomach, and leg muscles strong and flexible. Also keep your body in alignment so it can be more efficient when you move. That means don’t slouch—keep good posture whether you are at work, home, or during leisure activities. When lifting, keep the load close to your body and ask for help or use an assistive device to lift heavy objects. Maintain a regular physical fitness regimen. Staying active can help to prevent injuries.
In most cases, low back pain is mild and will disappear on its own. However, for some people back pain can return or persist, leading to a decrease in quality of life or even disability. Stay active and do as much of your normal routine as possible when you have low back pain. Bed rest for longer than a day can slow down your recovery. If your pain lasts more than a few days or gets worse, then you should schedule an appointment to see your physical therapist.
You should see a health care professional immediately if you experience the following
Symptoms; loss of bowel or bladder control or numbness in the groin or inner thigh or pain that does not change with rest
Not all low back pain is the same and your treatment should be tailored to suit your specific condition. Here are things you should expect from your therapist. First an individualized assessment in which your physical therapist asks you a number of questions about your specific condition and thoroughly examines you for problems with posture, flexibility, strength, joint mobility, and movement. Attention should be given to how you use your body at work, home, during sports, and at leisure.
Once your assessment is complete your physical therapist should develop an individualized treatment plan designed for your specific type of back problem. This may consist of treatment to decrease pain and restore mobility such as manual therapy techniques, including spinal manipulation, to improve mobility of joints and soft tissues. You may be given specific strengthening and/or flexibility exercises and education about care of your back and training for proper lifting, bending, sitting, sleeping, and doing chores both at work and in the home.
Although back pain is the most common complaint other problems may be keeping you out of the game such as neck, shoulder, knee, or foot pain or headaches or arthritic conditions or impaired balance and falls. All should be met with the same individualized approach.