Let’s Talk about Lower Back Pain

Lower. Back. Pain.

We all know it, we’ve all experienced it and we all want it to go away. At any given time 25% of people living in the United States have lower back pain (LBP). That is a quarter of the country, A QUARTER! While most pain subsides and goes away within days, some LBP can return or progress and can seriously impact your everyday life and your skeletal health.

A majority of us will be able to relieve and conquer our LBP by practicing simple exercises, maintaining great posture and staying active. But when chronic or recurring lower back pain happens, doing those exercises can become difficult. This is where Physical Therapy comes into play and can be the help someone needs to achieve comfort and  to prevent their lower back pain from coming back.

Physical Therapy will use three approaches for the treatment of lower back pain:

  1. Modalities
  2. Manual Therapy
  3. Active therapeutic exercises

Modalities commonly used:

  • Ultrasound – a form of deep heating where sound waves penetrate into the soft tissues of the problem area
  • Heat/ice packs – most commonly used modality to ease pain and promote relaxation
  • Electrical stimulation – to ease the sensation of pain,relax tight tissue and improve circulation
  • Light therapy (cold laser)   to promote repair of injured tissue at the cellular level
  • Mechanical traction – used to decrease joint pressure

Manual therapy techniques:

  • Myofascial release – soft tissue technique used to reset the resting tension of tight tissues
  • Joint mobilization – improves the gliding motion of the vertebrae
  • Muscle energy – form of gentle isometric contractions to relax the muscles

Active exercises physical therapists will use for LBP include:

  • Stretching – hamstring stretches are very important for LBP health, this is just one stretch to practice but is the most crucial
  • Strengthening – dynamic lumbar stabilization and core strengthening techniques are used to decrease LBP pain
  • Low-impact aerobic conditioning – this is important for long-term pain relief, examples of this are walking, biking or swimming 30-40 min up to 3 times weekly

Prevention and Best Practices

Here are some easy tips to keeping that lower back stable and able!

  • Posture – using proper body positioning at home, work and during any activity
  • Keep any weights/ heavier objects close to your body when doing a workout or lifting
  • Asking for help with heavy objects before attempting to lift them
  • Maintaining a regular physical fitness acumen

If you or someone you know suffers from lower back pain or has been experiencing recurring back pain it is important to contact your local Physical Therapist immediately to begin a healthy program that will get you back to doing what you love.