Physical Therapist’s Guide to Low Back Pain
January 26, 2017
If you have low back pain, you are not alone. At any given time, about 25% of people in the United States report having low back pain within the past 3 months. In most cases, low back pain is mild and disappears on its own. For some people, back pain can return or hang on, leading to a decrease in quality of life or even to disability.
The symptoms of low back pain vary a great deal. Your pain might be dull, burning, or sharp. You might feel it at a single point or over a broad area. It might be accompanied by muscle spasms or stiffness. Sometimes, it might spread into 1 or both legs.
How Can a Physical Therapist Help?
Your physical therapist can help you improve or restore mobility and reduce low back pain—in many cases, without expensive surgery or the side effects of medications.
If you are having low back pain right now:
- Stay active, and do as much of your normal routine as possible (bed rest for longer than a day can actually slow down your recovery.)
- If your pain lasts more than a few days or gets worse, schedule an appointment to see your physical therapist.
Not all low back pain is the same, so your treatment should be tailored to for your specific symptoms and condition. Once the examination is complete, your physical therapist will evaluate the results, identify the factors that have contributed to your specific back problem, and design an individualized treatment plan for your specific back problem. Treatments may include:
- Manual therapy, including spinal manipulation, to improve the mobility of joints and soft tissues
- Specific strengthening and flexibility exercises
- Education about how you can take better care of your back
- Training for proper lifting, bending, and sitting; for doing chores both at work and in the home; and for proper sleeping positions
- Assistance in creating a safe and effective physical activity program to improve your overall health
- Use of ice or heat treatments or electrical stimulation to help relieve pain
Can this Injury or Condition be prevented?
As experts in restoring and improving mobility and movement in people’s lives, physical therapists play an important role not only in treating persistent or recurrent low back pain, but also in preventing it and reducing your risk of having it come back.
Physical therapists can teach you how to use the following strategies to prevent back pain:
- Use good body positioning at work, home, or during leisure activities.
- Keep the load close to your body during lifting.
- Ask for help before lifting heavy objects.
- Maintain a regular physical fitness regimen—staying active can help to prevent injuries.
If you feel that you need to be seen by one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy because of low back pain and/or injury contact us at Foothills Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Center. We offer a FREE Pain & Injury Screening for all of our past, current and potential patients! Feel free to contact 865-573-6458 to schedule yours, we will be more than happy to help you so you can get back to enjoying the things you love!