Physical Therapy – Helping Back Pain
Back pain happens to almost everyone at some point in their life and can slowly or very quickly move you out of your comfort zone and restrict your normal lifestyle. Seeking help from a health care professional often happens once your pain becomes severe enough to interfere with daily activities, recreation, work or sleep. What happens next can depend on whom you consult.
Finding a health care professional who understands the complexity of back problems and can provide a comprehensive approach to back care is the key to managing or eliminating the curse of back pain. Every body is unique and no two complaints of back pain are identical. If your back hurts, don’t ignore the pain.
Physical therapists are university-trained professionals who will perform a detailed back assessment and provide safe and effective treatment. The causes of back pain are as many as the structures capable of producing pain – and almost every tissue
in the body is capable of giving us pain! Muscle strains, ligament sprains, disc protrusions, nerve compressions, joint arthritis, are just a few of the back problems we see as therapists. Often more than one structure is at fault and treatment needs to address a multitude of problems. Therapists are trained to not only assess what structure may be at fault, but also why that structure became painful in the first place. By recognizing the primary reason for pain, back symptoms are more quickly resolved and treatment benefits are longer lasting.
Being upright creatures, means that the gravitational forces are transferred to your back, pelvis and legs throughout your lifetime. Your back is a balance network of bones, ligaments, nerves and muscles. All of these must work together to balance and bear the weight of your body and the loads you carry. Weak or tight muscles, stiffness in a spinal joint, poor posture, faulty body mechanics or restrictions in your connective tissue can all contribute to more compressive forces than your back can bear. Ultimately, injury
or breakdown will occur.
Take degenerative disc disease as an example of the accumulative forces on the back over time. Degenerative disc disease is not really a disease, but an indication that your back has fallen victim to the forces of gravity and you haven’t been using the correct muscles properly to counteract these forces. When your Dr. says you have degenerative disc disease does that mean you just have to live with the pain? Of course not! Can something be done? Most definitely! Physical therapists will help show you ways to slow down the aging process and give your back the support it deserves.
Physical therapy treatments will restore your muscles and joints to their optimal levels. A variety of treatment techniques and modalities may be used. Learning proper body mechanics, improving your posture and practicing good work ergonomics are all an important part of the treatment process.
Your physical therapist will individualize your exercise program depending on your particular condition. Make sure to ask your therapist about core stabilization exercises. Core stabilization is the most important concept in back care and learning core stabilization exercises are the most effective exercises you will learn to help improve your symptoms and prevent future ones from developing. Core exercises work the muscles that are close to the center of your body and act as stabilizers to protect the spine when you lift and move your limbs during work and play. Specific training of these deep, core muscles will help create a “corset” effect to your back and protect it from injury and the compressive forces that cause disc degeneration. Your physical therapist will work with you, providing the tools you need to effectively manage your back and prevent further problems from recurring.
Article by Don Sorensen BSC.P.T., A.T. Dip C.A.F.C.I
Registered Physiotherapist & Owner of Body 'N Balance Physiotherapy
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