Back pain is a prevalent condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is also the most common conditions for patients seeking help from our physical therapist. Back pain can range from mild discomfort to crippling agony, significantly impacting one’s quality of life. When suffering from back pain, it’s in the patient’s best interest to start the recovery process as soon as possible rather than hoping the pain will subside, as it could develop into chronic back pain.
Over time we develop arthritic changes in our backs due to normal wear and tear. Research suggests that between 60%-75% of the population who experience back pain once will experience recurring or chronic problems.
Chronic Back Pain
Back pain tends to become chronic if the pain is persistent for three months or longer. In most cases, chronic back pain is related to your age, but it can also result from a new or previous injury, whether from sports, the workplace, etc. Back pain can also worsen if not treated properly or treated at all. When patients do not consult their physician for first-time problems, they will continue to experience chronic back problems. Contacting your local physician or physical therapist on the first onset of back pain is beneficial in finding answers to why you are experiencing back pain and also help you determine the next steps in your recovery process.
Common Back Problems Seen by Physical Therapists
- Low Back Pain (LBP)
- Arthritis Pain
- Strains and Sprains
- Muscle Spasms
- Herniated Discs
- Degenerated Discs
- Piriformis Syndrome
- Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
How Can Physical Therapy Help with Chronic Back Pain?
Physical therapy can help restore the ability to conduct your daily routine without pain or discomfort. Large-scale studies have shown that physical therapy can provide up to 60% improvement in lower and chronic back pain.
Physical therapy is the best non-surgical and non-invasive option for treating chronic back pain. Exercise plays a big part in physical therapy is also the base foundation for chronic back pain treatment while being one of the first treatments you should consider under the supervision of your physician and physical therapist. However, the exercise must be specific to your problem. Talk to your physical therapist to conduct a treatment plan that is right for your pain and condition.
Here are 5 Exercises to Help Reduce Back Pain
Lower Trunk Rotation
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your feet and knees together and lightly rotate your spine. Stop the stretch when you feel your hips coming off of the table. Only rotate to approximately 45 degrees and rotate back and forth like a windshield wiper.
Repeat for 2 minutes.
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Slightly elevate your hips but not high enough to where it comes off of the table. Simultaneously, sqeeze your abdominal muscles down towards the table. Continue to breathe.
Hold this for 10 seconds and rest for 10 seconds. Repeat for 2 minutes.
Single Knee to Chest
Bring one knee to your chest.
Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat alternating legs to your chest for a time of 2 minutes.
Figure 4 Stretch
Cross one ankle over to the opposite knee and press down on the resting leg. You should feel the stretch in your hip.
Hold this stretch for 30 seconds if you can tolerate it. Repeat 3 repetitions, then switch legs.
Cross one ankle over to the opposite knee. Pull the resting knee across your body and up towards your chest. (You should aim for your opposite shoulder as a reference). This stretch should be felt over the crossed left buttock.
Hold for 30 seconds if you can tolerate it. Repeat for 3 repetitions on each leg.
Physical Therapy Treatment for Chronic Back Pain
We offer a comprehensive approach by incorporating manual therapy and prescriptive therapeutic exercises. Physical therapy programs strive to improve the patient’s condition and symptoms while providing them with movement awareness, knowledge of safe positions, functional strength, and coordination, all promoting chronic back pain management and healing.
Treatments offered may include:
- Comprehensive evaluations with an emphasis on finding the root of the problem
- Individualized and specific exercise programs to start the healing process
- Manual therapy (hands-on treatment)
- Progressive Home Exercise Programs to help restore independence and self-management
These treatments are tailored to the specific symptoms of your condition and diagnosis and are different for each patient. If you are experiencing back pain, you may benefit from a consultation with one of our physical therapists.