Back pain is one of the most common causes of disability, affecting around 80% of us at some point. For some people, back pain is associated with a specific underlying diagnosis, such as: B. a muscle spasm, degenerative disc disease, a herniated disc or sciatica. For others, there is simply no clear cause.
The good news is that physical therapy has been shown to help people with back pain, whether they have a specific diagnosis or not. In fact, PT is recommended as the preferred treatment for most types of chronic pain, such as back pain.
Here’s a quick wellness assessment you can try right now: Sitting in a chair or hunched over a smartphone? The classic head-forward, rounded-shoulder position that most of us find ourselves in during the day can put extra strain on the spine. Over time, poor posture can also lead to weak core and pelvic floor muscles, reducing the support and stability a spine needs.
Poor posture is not the only possible cause of back pain. For many people, poor posture compensates for discomfort. If your back hurts, you may be in an awkward position to seek temporary relief.
This means that correcting your posture can be helpful in relieving back pain. But it’s also important to address other underlying risk factors that cause back pain, including:
- Age. Back pain is more likely to occur from the third, fourth or fifth decade of life.
- training condition. If you’re sedentary or a “weekend warrior,” you’re more likely to have back pain.
- Weight. Being overweight can put more strain on your back and increase your risk of other health problems related to back pain.
- Genetics. Certain disorders, including scoliosis and ankylosing spondylitis, tend to run in families.
- professional factors. Back pain is common in people with physically demanding jobs that require a lot of heavy lifting, twisting, or pushing, as well as people who are sedentary at work.
- Smoking. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen-rich blood that flows to the spinal discs, which can cause them to thin and break more quickly.
- Heavy backpacks. This is a common cause for children and teenagers who complain of sore and painful backs.
- Mental health. Anxiety, depression, and other mood-related disorders are linked to back pain, can increase muscle tension in the spine, and even affect a person’s perception of pain
Another surprising risk factor for back pain is back pain.
A 2017 study published in Physical Therapy found that about a third of people who have an acute episode of back pain have back pain again.
So don’t hesitate to seek professional help if your back hurts. Because even if your back pain gets better on its own after a few weeks, you could still have underlying issues that increase your risk of another episode in the near future.
Physical therapy offers several approaches that can help people alleviate their back pain, but each approach is highly individualized to meet each patient’s unique needs and goals.
In general, most people with back pain benefit from a combination of:
- Manual therapy.
- Specific exercises aimed at facilitating tissue healing and improving core muscle strength, endurance and coordination, as well as improving range of motion in other areas such as shoulders and hips.
- Movement and posture assessments to improve alignment, body mechanics and efficiency.
- Neuromuscular re-education to restore normal movement patterns through exercises and manual techniques.
- Educating patients about the neuroscience of pain and the influence of mindset on a person’s discomfort and long-term outcomes.
Research shows that one of the best ways to improve and prevent back pain is to engage in regular aerobic exercise. Physical therapists can be helpful here because they help people feel well enough to get back up their activity levels.
Kim Gladfelter is an Owner, Physical Therapist, and Pilates Instructor at PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness, 1000 Fremont Ave., Los Altos. For more information, call (650) 887-6046 or visit physiofitpt.com.